Police resorted to lathicharge as a farmers’ agitation against limestone mining by a private firm in Mahuva taluka of Bhavnagar district turned violent on Wednesday, leaving at least four policemen and as many farmers injured in the clash.
Around 2,000 residents from nearby areas assembled at Uncha Kotda village in the taluka Wednesday to protest against ongoing mining of limestone by UltraTech Cement Limited from its Bambhor-Talli mining site. As the farmers started marching towards the mining site, police stopped them, leading to a clash.
“While the policemen deployed on the mining site were trying to persuade farmers (to return), they turned violent and started pelting stones on police teams. A sub-inspector and three constables sustained serious injuries in the stone-pelting. The mob also targeted eight police vehicles and vandalised them. In order to control the rioters, we lobbed 35 teargas shells and resorted to lathicharge. In the lathicharge, four protesters were injured,” Superintendent of Police of Bhavnagar, Pravin Mal, told The Indian Express.
Later, farmers clashed again with the police outside Datha police station where around 45 protesters, including their leader Bharat Bhil, were brought after they were detained. The farmers assembled outside the police station demanding release of the detained protesters. “Police had to use force again to disperse rioting mobs. We have detained around 80 persons, including 35 women. We are in the process of registering two cases for rioting and other offences, and these persons will be formally arrested once the FIRs are lodged,” Mal said.
According to the police, the cement company suspended mining operations following the clashes. This is second major protest by farmers of 12 villages of Mahuva and Talaja against limestone mining in as many months.