New Delhi, July 10 (UNI) As construction work begins on the Reliance-promoted SEZ near Gurgaon, the Haryana government has virtually imposed an 'undeclared curfew' by deploying around 4000 policmen to thwart the villagers' protest, going on for past one week now.
A team of 'Janhastakshep' (People's Group), which met the protesting activists, youth and farmers in affected areas yesterday, said since June 30 the police had created there a curfew-like situation and completely barricaded the main road from NH 8 to Manesar.
The team in its fact-finding report said the police had also to filed cases against 33 activists and farmers who had been protesting the SEZ and causing great inconvenience to the villagers, especially school going children and those requiring medical assistance.
''Because of the heavy police, there was a general sense of fear among the villagers and the personnel at the barricade merrily accepted cold drinks being offered by Reliance Industries' workers,'' the report said.
The farmers, hailing from five villages --Khandsa, Narsingpur, Mohammedpur, Gadauli Khurd and Harsaru -- near Gurgaon, are opposing the transfer of 1,395 acre of land to the Reliance Industries by Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Corporation (HSIIDC) for setting up an SEZ in the region.
The farmers have also been protesting the SEZ to be set up over an area of 25,000 acre from Garhi Harsuru to Badli at the Farrukhnagar-Jhajjar Road. The proposed Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway is also to pass through the same area.
The total proposed investment is about 30 billion dollars with more than 10,000 acre for "infrastructure, residential, leisure and entertainment and commercial establishment" and only 6500 acre outlined for industries.
''The villagers told the team that Reliance had also been providing food to the policemen other than 'pocket expenses'. The SEZ site at Harsaru village, there were heavy machine, cranes, and work for construction of the wall continued amidst heavy presence of private security guards and the police who prevented all villagers from using the public road,'' the report added.
The team, comprising Dr Anup Saraya, Dr Vikas Bajpayee, Shakeeb Ahmed and Sachin Singh, quoted the Sarpanch of Gadauli Khurd of Bhoomi Bachao Samiti condemning the state government for its dubious role in this affair by using the armed forces to work as a broker for corporate houses.
The team interviewed several villagers including one Surinder, a advocate who questioned the corporates that "if they really want a 'free market' then why do they continue to use the state police to acquiring land?" The report also quoted sarpanch of Harsaru village Mr Gajraj Chauhan, who had said the problem started in 2003 when the state government issued notification for land acquisition under the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 with no mention of any SEZ or the land being sold for real estate development.
By the time of the final award and HSIIDC's sale of 1395 acre to the Reliance, the HSIIDC had already made a profit of Rs 60 crore in excess of compensation paid to the farmers, he said, adding that the state government was acting more as a property dealer than an administrator.
The farmers felt that it would be pointless to protest, and they accepted a mere Rs 20 lakh per acre, whereas in neighbouring villages, the Reliance was buying land directly from farmers at between Rs 4-5 crore per acre, the sarpanch said.
He also pointed out that about 400 acres of land had been conveniently exempted from the declared SEZ only because some very influential people were residing there.
The team also met other protesting leaders including Mahabir Gulia from Haryana Kisan Mazdoor Samiti, who condemned the "police for repression and the doubled-handed trickery of the Hooda government".
Various farmers organisations had given a week time to the Hooda government for acceding their demands which included removing police from the villages immediately and withdrawing all cases against protestors.
They also demanded scraping of Mukesh Ambani promoted SEZ and doing away of SEZ Act and the Land Aquisition Act 1894 with a blanket on use of agricultural land for commercial purposes.
They alleged, ''The Hooda government is using state police as 'private security guards' to protect corporate interests at the taxpayers cost.'' UNI JSS SW HS1642