The police resorted to lathicharge and detained at least 100 villagers after they blocked traffic and allegedly pelted stones at Bed toll plaza near Jamnagar on State Highway 25 on Wednesday morning. Two policemen were allegedly injured in the incident.
Residents of around 30 villages near Bed village,16 km west of Jamnagar,blocked traffic at the toll plaza at 10 am in protest against levy of toll tax despite their villages falling within the 15 km radius. The police initially detained 27 persons. Soon,more villagers joined the protest and started pelting stones at the police,injuring two constables. The police then detained 74 more villagers.
As the mob turned violent,we had to resort to lathicharge. All the detained persons were released in the afternoon, said a police sub-inspector of Panchkoshi B Division. Leader of BJP in Jamnagar district panchayat,Pratikshaba Jadeja,was among those detained.
The villagers claimed that the private company which had executed the project of widening the SH-25,connecting Rajkot to Vadinar in Jamnagar,was collecting toll from villages near the toll plaza,including Bed,despite having promised not to do so. Before opening the toll plaza,the company had promised Bed panchayat that no toll will be collected from the residents. Now,they are not exempting us, said Digvijaysinh Jadeja,husband of Pratikshaba and a resident of Bed. Digvijaysinh said that villages falling within 15 km radius from a toll plaza in the state were exempted from paying toll,but around 35 villages near Bed were not getting this exemption.
The villagers had also submitted a memorandum to the district collector in this regard. Digvijaysinh was injured in a scuffle with security officers of the toll plaza a few days ago over payment of toll. On his complaint,the police had booked four persons.
The company,which is a concessionaire for the project,started collecting toll in January 2012. Local officers of the company refused to comment on the issue.
The police have booked a mob for rioting and preventing public servant from discharging his duty in connection with Wednesdays incident.