Thirty-one persons, including seven women, who had taken part in a protest outside the United Phosphorus Ltd (UPL) for resumption of water supply, were arrested for rioting in Bharuch district on Thursday. The villagers of Paniyadhara and Padariya in Dahej taluka had oraganised the protest against UPL after the company stopped water supply to the villages, which was reportedly part of an agreement under their CSR.
Police lobbed teargas shells and charged lathis to disperse the villagers. Two FIRs have been filed at Dahej police station for rioting and violation of the Epidemic Disease Act and Disaster Management Act.
As per details, the UPL unit number 12 at Kadodara village in Dahej had agreed to a verbal agreement under its CSR policy to supply drinking water to these villages.
Since the last few days, the company had stopped the water supply to the villages. The villagers had on Wednesday given a memorandum to Bharuch collector and Vaghra Mamlatar, requesting them to intervene into the matter.
Sources said that the people of both the villages had raised funds from each household and installed a water network pipeline in both the villages.
After the water supply stopped, villagers on Thursday afternoon sat on a dharna at the main gate of the company and chanted slogans against the company authorities.
The company authorities called the police who held peace talks with the villagers. The villagers, however, were adamant on continuing their protest. When police tried to remove them forcefully, some of the youths pelted stones on the public which led to the lathi charge.
Dahej police inspector A C Gohil said, “We tried to convince the protesting villagers on the main gate of the company. But some notorious elements had pelted stones on police, as a result of which the situation worsened and we resorted to lathi charge and tear gas shells to disperse the mob.”
The police had registered cases under IPC Section 188, 269, Epidemic Act section 3 and disaster management act section 51(b). The detainees were later released from the police station.
Late on Thursday night, Dahej police had registered one more case of rioting into the incident. Those arrested have been booked under IPC sections, 143, 146, 147, 148, 120(b), 337, 332, Damage to public property act section 3, 7 and Disaster management act section 51(b).
When contacted, the UPL H R manager Vinod Patel said he was in a meeting.
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