Agri Business

4 killed as farmers' protest turns violent in Maharashtra

Alka Kshirsagar Pune | Updated on August 09, 2011

A farmers’ agitation over supplying water from the Pawna Dam to the twin industrial towns of Pimpri Chinchwad turned violent on Tuesday with four protesters, including one woman, being killed following police firing.

The incident occurred around 1.30 in the afternoon today near the town of Bahur, around 55 km northwest of Pune, when police tried unsuccessfully to disperse a mob around 500-strong that had gathered on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway to protest against the pipeline.

According to Mr Sandeep Karnik, Superintendent of Police, Pune Rural, the farmers had organised a rally on the stretch of the Expressway a little before the hill town of Lonavala at around 11 this morning. When the police asked them to vacate the road once the speeches were finished, the protesters encircled and attacked the officials, and began pelting stones, he said.

“The police fired 21 rounds of tear gas and 25 rubber bullets, and fired their service pistols in the air, after which they fired in self defence,” Mr Karnik said. Three protestors were killed in the incident, while one succumbed later to his injuries. Two senior officers and 25 Constables sustained injuries while three police vehicles were torched, and some private vehicles, including a bus were damaged by the mob.

The issue of supplying water from the dam to Pimpri-Chinchwad has been a contentious one since 2008, and several protests have been held over the last three years. It has come into focus again with the recent commencement of work on the pipeline.

Mr Suresh Gaikwad, a farmer from the region said that the installation of a closed water pipeline would cause a severe shortage of water in the villages that are irrigation-dependant for farming. “The government must find alternate water supply to Pimpri-Chinchwad,” he said.

Though the police had diverted traffic to the old highway, the sudden blockage on the busy Expressway caught several commuters unawares, and led to a snarl for some hours. The road was cleared and flow of traffic restored by late evening today.

Published on August 09, 2011

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