Villagers attack police at Tata project site in Bastar

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Jagdalpur (Bastar), Nov 15 (UNI) Tension prevailed in Lohandiguda block in Bastar district of Chhattisgarh after a group of villagers, protesting land acquisition for the proposed Tata Steel Plant, attacked a police party last night, police said today.

A group of 300 villagers had attacked the police party, which was patrolling the area, around 2200 hours last night, leaving a Sub-Inspector seriously injured, police said.

A huge contingent of security personnel has been deployed in the area to maintain law and order. Senior police officials have also reached the spot.

Sub-Inspector S R Nayak, who was injured, has been hospitalised while additional forces have been rushed to the villages falling under the Lohandiguda block, located about 40 kms away from Bastar district headquarters of Jagdalpur.

A process is on to acquire about 6000 acres of land spread over 10 villages around Lohandiguda for the proposed integrated steel plant to be set up by Tata Steel at an estimated cost of more than Rs 10,000 crore. Compensation is being disbursed to the farmers, whose land has been acquired for the proposed plant, the sources said, adding that compensation has already been paid in four villages.

The villagers, who attacked the police patrol last night, were alleging that the administration had forced the people to accept cheques towards compensation.

All India Adivasi Mahasabha President and Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Manish Kunjam said ''the administration was forcibly depositing the compensation cheques in the back accounts of the farmers, whose land was being acquired for the purpose''. Besides, the administration was adopting ''dirty tricks'' to intimidate the project affected people by threatening to harass their close relatives working with various government departments, he alleged.

Mr Kunjam, a former CPI legislator of undivided Madhya Pradesh, said ''unrest was prevailing in the area and the situation could turn worse anytime''.

UNI

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