Police lathicharged farmers in Telangana's Gajwel mandal protesting against the Mallana Sagar irrigation project on Sunday, leaving 25 villagers injured.
The villagers of Vemulaghat in Medak district have been on a relay hunger strike for the past 15 days to protest against the Mallanna Sagar project.
In an attempt to intensify their struggle, the villagers started to walk towards Hyderabad-Karimnagar highway to block the road on Sunday morning.
At Pallephad village, police asked them not to march towards the highway. After a heated argument between villagers and police, the latter lathicharged the protestors. Police also fired two rounds into the air.
Close to 25 protesters including women and children. The incident occurred in Dubbaka, near Gajwel assembly constituency, which is represented by Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao.
Congress and Telugu Desam Party called for Medak bandh on Monday, condemning the lathicharge and firing.
Ponnam Prabakar, Congress leader and Medak in-charge, said, “Women, farmers, and children were injured in the lathicharge. Irrigation Minister Harish Rao is sitting in Siddipet and threatening the farmers into giving away their land. We called for a bandh today, and our leaders, Damodar Rajanarsimha, Sunita Lakshma Reddy and Professor Kodandaram were arrested. Now Harish Rao calls this bandh a fail. They are making a mockery of the democracy.”
Addressing a media conference, Harish Rao rubbished the allegations made by the Congress and TDP. “The violence erupted because TDP workers pelted stones at police officials and in order to control them, firing and lathicharge took place, in which innocent villagers got hurt. Opposition wants to make this an issue to gain political mileage,” he said.
He claimed that the farmers were giving their land to the government and were being compensated. “Out of eight villages, farmers from six villages already agreed to give their land. We are in last stages of negotiation with the other two villages,” he said.
The government says that the Mallana Sagar reservoir will provide water to upland areas in Nizamabad, Medak, Rangareddy and Nalgonda districts. It is to be completed within two years.
The government had proposed compensation at the rate of Rs 5.85 lakh per acre. After a month of negotiations, an agreement was reportedly clinched in a meeting held by Irrigation Minister T Harish Rao, with farmers settling for compensation rates of Rs 6 lakh per acre.
However, there has been stiff opposition to the project, with allegations that several farmers had killed themselves over the project.