Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): The Madhya Pradesh government's decision to allot land in an industrial estate to an RSS affiliate associated with small industries prompted the opposition Congress to stage a protest under senior leader Digvijaya Singh here on Sunday wherein police used water cannons.
The incident occurred when Singh, a Rajya Sabha MP, and other Congress workers were trying to climb on a barricade during the protest held at Govindpura industrial area, officials said.
Police have filed a case against Singh and eight other Congress leaders along with 200 workers of the party for organising a protest without prior permission and violating COVID-19 rules.
"Police used water cannons but we will continue to fight against the land allotment till the association of Industrial area is with us. The water got into my ears,"' Singh told reporters.
He alleged Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had given this land worth crores to the Laghu and Madhyam Udyog Bharti at the rate of Re 1 despite opposition from the Industrial Association.
"This is the only park where workers take their lunch and rest," Singh said.
The former chief minister said the Govindpura industrial estate was developed for ancillary units of the Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) in Bhopal.
"The park land in the estate is being allotted to this organisation without changing the land title and securing due permissions. 95 per cent of the industrialists are opposed to the land allotment to this body," he said.
"I, CM Chouhan, former CM Babulal Gaur had planted saplings in this park," Singh recalled.
Eyewitnesses said a heated argument broke out between Singh and Bhopal DIG Irshad Wali during the demonstration in the presence of police personnel.
When Singh said the Congress will demolish the foundation stone on the allotted land, Wali is heard saying the police will keep an eye on him, they said.
District Collector Avinash Lavania told Singh that the work at the allotted land is allowed only after securing necessary legal permissions including from the Industry Department.
Reacting to the Congress' protest, Madhya Pradesh Medical Education Minister Vishvas Sarang said the upcoming project of the Laghu Udyog Bharati will provide skill development and create jobs.
"This land was allotted to the Laghu Udyog Bharti after considering all the aspects," he told reporters.
Sarang said contrary to the claims made by Singh, no industrialist was seen during Saturday's protest.
"Digvijaya Singh is always opposed to every new creation and brings negativity into every positive thing. The youths will be prepared for employment. Digvijaya Singh was CM for ten years but instead of giving jobs, he deprived the daily wagers of their employment. He is now feeling bad when something new is created," Sarang alleged.
Congress leader and former Union minister Arun Yadav condemned the use of force by police against the party workers and Singh.
"The BJP regime allotted the land to an organisation affiliated to the RSS. Police used force when Congress workers staged a protest. The CM should take action against erring officials," Yadav demanded.
Ashoka Garden police station in-charge Alok Shrivastava told PTI that police filed cases against eight leaders including Digvijaya Singh, MLA PC Sharma, Vibha Patel and others, besides 200 party workers.
"These leaders were booked under sections 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 147 (rioting) of the Indian Penal Code," he said.
Shrivastava said only water cannons were used to disperse the protestors and no excessive force was used during the protest.