A day after the 85-day long farmer’s protests turned violent in Bihar’s Buxar, Union Minister (MoS) Ashwini Chaubey became the victim of protesters’ ire when he visited his constituency on Thursday. Angry farmers pelted stones at the minister, who is also the Member of Parliament from Buxar, who came on an unscheduled visit to talk to them. Within a matter of 10 minutes, he had to leave the spot.
Chaubey’s visit was ill-timed as the farmers demanding better compensation for land acquisition were seething with anger due to the brutal police crackdown on Tuesday night. BJP had slammed Nitish Kumar-led administration for the crackdown and accused it of running “jungle raj”.
Locals in Buxar are agitating against land acquisition for a power plant attacked. On Wednesday, the farmers clashed with Police resulting in injuries to six protesters.
They alleged that policemen barged into their homes and beat up several protestors last night for opposing the land acquisition. Even women and children were not spared, they said.
The protest has been continuing for the last 85 days at Banarpur village of Muffasil area in Buxar district.
According to local media reports, protestors attacked police personnel with sticks and rods and set police vans ablaze. In response, police resorted to firing in the air, to bring the situation under control.
Villagers alleged that police ransacked homes of many protestors, and assaulted and arrested them on Tuesday night, hours after they sat on a dharna in protest demanding more compensation for their acquired land outside the power plant gate.
Visuals showed protestors armed with sticks and rods setting a police van on fire, and attacking policemen inside a police station.
Speaking to media persons after the violence, Buxar superintendent of police (SP) Manish Kumar said, “Villagers are agitated. They have created mayhem and vandalized public property. We are trying to control the situation.”
As per reports, the process of acquisition of farmers’ lands for Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam’s (SJVN) power plant in Chausa commenced in 2010-11. At that time, the farmers were paid compensation as per the market rate. But when the company began the final proceedings of acquiring the land in 2022, farmers demanded to be paid compensation for the acquired land based on the current market rate.
Deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, who is expected to replace his senior Nitish Kumar this year, has taken cognizance of the violence and assured protestors to resolve their grievances. “We will look into the matter, whether it is related to compensation or any other issue. Action would be taken after receiving official inputs,” the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader said.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was quick to blame the Nitish-Tejashwi government for the violence, calling the incident “unfortunate”.
“The Bihar government lathi-charged farmers today. Previously, they had used it against students. The government should keep their lathis for mafia and criminals and not the farmers of Bihar,” said BJP national spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia.