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Farmers threaten suicide in land grab protest

Government wants to take more than 200 hectares

Farmers sit on unlit pyres Farmers sit on unlit pyres
  • ucanews.com reporter, Bhopal
  • India
  • November 9, 2012
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More than 1,000 people, including children, are protesting on unlit pyres, threatening to immolate themselves if their agricultural land is acquired for industrial purposes.

The protest started yesterday after the Madhya Pradesh government announced a plan to acquire the land for an upcoming power project by Welspun Energy Private Limited. The power company has already acquired more than 300 hectares of land of the 526 hectares required. The government’s move would affect the lives of 230 families.

"When the administration tried to evict us forcefully we were left with no option but to die on the soil where we were born," said a villager, who is taking part in the unique form of protest called a chita satyagraha  - protest on unlit pyres.

The protesters have kerosene and matches and threaten to burn themselves if police force their way onto the agricultural land. Yashvendra Dubey, a social activist, told ucanews.com the government is trying to acquire the land by classifying it as barren.

Govind Yadav, state president of Janta Dal United, a socialist party, said his party supports the farmers as the government is not offering proper compensation.

The state witnessed huge protests from farmers recently over land acquisition for industrial purposes and dams.

In September, farmers displaced by construction of the Omkareshwar dam protested by standing in neck-deep water for 17 days, demanding compensation and proper rehabilitation in lieu of their acquired land.

The government accepted their demands.

Last month, 50,000 landless peasants started a march to New Delhi, the national capital, demanding land rights and home for the homeless.

They called off their march after the government also conceded to their demands.

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