Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president K Annamalai announced that the party would organise a protest against the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government on 18 November at Tiruvannamalai for detaining seven farmers who were protesting for over 100 days against the the acquisition of around 3000 acres of agricultural land for an industrial park to be set up by State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu (SIPCOT) in the district.
Sharing a video of a woman speaking about the detention of the men, he wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter), "It is becoming increasingly evident from the family of the arrested farmers that the DMK govt has wilfully meted out this atrocity of imposing the Goondas act on the hard-working farmers of our State for protesting against the government’s decision to acquire their agricultural lands."
According to the English subtitles in the video, the woman said, "The protest started on July 2 in Cheyyar. On the 70th day we went to give a petition to Cheyyar. The police arrested all the men on the way. On the 125th day police removed the protest tents as well. They also arrested other men at 2 AM in the morning. They arrested 22 men altogether.
"We thought they would release them in 15 days, but in vain. 7 of them have been booked under the Goondas Act. They brought us a form. It had no information on farm protest. It mentioned about illicit liquor, sand smuggling, rape, sexual harassment, theft. They got the spouse signed naming them as witness. They warned us of sealing our shops and arresting us with our children if we do not oblige to sign.
"Farmers are protesting for our lands. We are not behind government's property. We are fighting for our own property. If it was government's property they could take actions. Why are they doing this when we are fighting to protect our own property?
"These are lands which yield crops throughout the year. They are meting out such atrocities against us. How can they book them under Goondas Act? They should withdraw this Goondas Act. Else all of us will end our lives. Let them build their companies on our lands after we die. Let them build SIPCOT after we die. Let them bury us there and then build SIPCOT over our bodies."
According to a report by The New Indian Express, during the hearing of the bail plea of 20 farmers, the public prosecutor KV Manoharan informed the Principal District and Sessions Judge P Madhusudhanan that the state government was in the process of initiating proceedings under the Goondas Act against seven farmers and the matter was adjourned to 20 November.
The report also stated that the farmers were booked under sections 147, 341, 143, 294(b), 353 and 506(1) of the IPC and the Public Property Act.
S Rajesh is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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