ArounD 20 farmers were injured in Charason and Balberah villages of Patiala district when the police resorted to lathicharge to free shamlat land (common village land) from the possession of the farmers.
A huge police contingent,along with a battery of officials of the district administration,landed in these villages early Tuesday morning. The officials were on a mission to get 140 acres of shamlat land freed from these farmers who have been tilling it for decades.
Today,hundreds of policemen accompanied officials of panchayat and development,revenue and other departments to wrest land from the peasants who have been cultivating it for the last four to five decades. The police suddenly descended on the village in great numbers to forcibly take possession of the lands of poor peasants without informing the panchayat and villagers as is the norm. The police resorted to firing and lathicharge when a large crowd from Balberah,Charason and adjoining villages assembled to resist the acquisition. Women also sustained injuries, said Buta Singh Burajgill,state president of Bhartiya Kissan Union Dakaunda.
Patiala SSP Gurpreet Singh Gill,on the other hand,claimed: It was the farmers who at first began pelting stones,as a result of which,the police had to take action. Sources,however,pointed out that no policeman was injured in the incident.
The first round of the lathicharge was said to have begun around 11 am and gone on for two hours.
Eyewitnesses claimed that while the situation became normal by afternoon,a senior official of the administration sent in some more policemen and the situation turned violent once again. A second round of lathicharge went on for another hour.
The officials have come to these villages twice before but had to return empty handed when a large number of villagers protested. However,today,the police and officials came quietly to take control of about 140 acres of land. The police not only used rubber bullets and water cannons,it also used live cartridges. They could also be seen hunting down and dragging people from tubewells and mercilessly beating them up, added district president Dr Darshan Pal.
The state governments decision to take back common village land was opposed by the villagers on the ground that they have made the land fit for cultivation through hard labour for decades. They also wanted to be made the legal owners of the land.