giovedì 12 aprile 2012

Anti-special economic zone protest turns violent

RAMANAKKAPETA (EAST GODAVARI): Tension prevailed at Ramanakkapeta village in U Kothapalli mandal on Tuesday when hundreds of anti-Kakinada Special Economic Zone agitators detained a large number of cops of Uppada Kottapalli and Pithapuram police stations for several hours. The angry protestors also damaged a police jeep.

They gave vent to their ire by targeting the cops who tried to drive out hundreds of farmers from the agriculture fields when the latter forcibly tried to plough the fields, which were taken over by the promoters of KSEZ. The incident took an ugly turn when the protestors even detained some journalists who went to cover the protests. The angry farmers detained Pithapuram police when the latter rushed to rescue their colleagues from U Kothapalli. Hundreds of farmers from nearby villages also arrived on the scene and shouted slogans against the police and the KSEZ management.

It all started when farmers of the village tried to plough the land with tractors, demanding that the authorities resume the land taken away from them for setting up the KSEZ. Following this, a large number of policemen were rushed to the area to stop the protestors from cultivating the land.

Angry words were exchanged between the farmers and police. When the cops tried to stop the agitators from ploughing the fields, they were detained. After nearly five hours of high drama, the police personnel were told by their superiors to retreat from the spot. The agitators allowed the cops to go back only after being convinced that they would not face any cases.

Police registered cases against the youth when they were detained for almost six hours at Thondagi mandal one and a half months ago.

Sources said irked by continuous threats, the farmers of U Kothapalli and Thondangi mandals had decided to teach the cops a lesson this time around. “The cops are acting at the behest of the promoters of the KSEZ. Our land should be given back,” an angry farmer shouted. A port-based multi-product SEZ which took shape in 2005 envisages development of more than 10,000 acres in both the mandals. The KSEZ promoters promised Rs 40,000 crore in investments to set up industries like oil refineries, power plants, garments and machinery manufacturing units. However, no major industrial activity has taken place till now and people of the mandals allege that half of the 10,000 acres was purchased illegally by paying the farmers Rs 3 lakh per acre by KSEZ promoter K V Rao. The farmers of Ramannakkapet lost 800 acres to the SEZ. The farmers have been conducting `vanta-varpu’ in the fields for the last two months as a mark of their protest. “We have no leader to guide us. Farmers are fighting as their livelihood is at stake,” an activist, K Rajendra, said.

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