The Salem police on Saturday arrested a group of farmers reportedly on charges of instigating people to protest against the proposed eight-lane green corridor project connecting Salem and Chennai.
The corridor essentially involves a 274-km long, eight-lane highway, connecting the two cities via Krishnagiri, Tiruvannamalai and Kancheepuram.
The project, proposed at an outlay of Rs 10,000 crore by the Centre, has been the top priority of the state government which has been acquiring land in the districts to carry out the project.
The project has faced a tough challenge from opposition parties and social activists, who say that it would destroy fertile lands and destroy the lives of several farmers.
Farmers of Poolavari, Nilavarapatti, Naazhikkalpatti, Kuppanur and Achankuttapatti villages have expressed concern that the project would take away their lands and affect their livelihoods. The corridor will cover 37 km in Salem alone.
The residents of Achankuttapatti, a few days ago, had reportedly blocked Revenue Department officials from surveying the land that had to acquired in the area for the project. The locals even stated that they would be protesting before the District Collectorate to demand that the project be cancelled.
The protestors were arrested by the police. Following an inquiry, the police also arrested DMK and Naam Tamizhar functionaries Muthukumar and A Marimuthu for allegedly instigating the violence.
This comes even as the state government is drawing flak for the death of 13 civilians who were gunned down in clashes between police and those protesting against Sterlite's copper smelter in Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu last month.
The incidents, which have widely been called 'state sponsored murder', have drawn sharp reactions from political leaders across the country.
Addressing the media earlier, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister justified the police firing on unarmed protesters, calling it a "natural reaction".