Chandigarh: The ongoing farmers' protest in the Zira town of Ferozepur district took an ugly turn Tuesday evening after the farmers clashed with the police deployed there to prevent them from gathering in front of a private distillery, which the former alleged polluted their agricultural land and water.
Inspector general of police (IGP) Jaskaran Singh said that as many as seven policemen were injured in the conflict when the police tried to stop the farmers who wanted to join the protesting farmers in front of the distillery, located in Mansurwal village.
Tension first erupted in the forenoon when the police resorted to mild lathi-charge when it only hit the vehicles in which the farmers were trying forcibly remove police barricading. The farmers have been holding a sit-in near the distillery since July this year demanding its closure.
On Monday too, a large number of farmers from nearby villages had forcibly removed the police barricades and joined the protest.
Notably, farmers of several villages of Zira town have launched an agitation against the private distillery, despite Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann’s announcement for an exhaustive and time-bound examination into the alleged pollution.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) have already given a clean chit to the distillery even as the Punjab and Haryana High Court had also slapped a penalty of Rs 20 crore on the state government last month for its failure to remove the protesters from the site. The distillery had remained closed for 146 days because of the farmers’ stir although the administration had got the distillery management access to the plant on December 18, last, but the unit could not resume production.
The farmers, on the other hand, have been alleging that the plant effluents had been causing grave environmental hazard damaging the soil and water in several villages in the vicinity, and demanded its closure. The farmers associated with the Ekta Ughraha and Rajewal factions of the Bharatiya Kisan Union have also extended their support to the farmers’ stir.
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