The farmers had organised a special silent protest against land acquisition on August 15 at Devanahalli, on the outskirts of Bengaluru.
On August 15 of this year, a group of farmers in Devanahalli, on the outskirts of Bengaluru were silently protesting against government acquisition of their land, when they were beaten up and arrested by the police. Among the injured farmers was 32-year-old Pramod who now stands to lose his sight in one eye. The farmers have lodged a complaint with the State Police Complaints Authority against the police personnel, accusing them of brutality. The farmers from 13 villages in and around Devanahalli, had been protesting for more than four months against the land acquisition by the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB). They were arrested by the Devanahalli police early in the morning of August 15.
Around 4 am on August 15, the police turned off electricity to the protest site, where the farmers were sleeping and then charged in. Pramod along with a few others began questioning why they were being arrested and sought to see a warrant. According to Pramod, once the farmers began questioning them, the police resorted to forcefully arresting them, during which he sustained the injury. As the injured farmers scattered in a bid to escape, many of them were later arrested from their homes. Among the farmers, who sustained injuries, was Pramod who was injured in the left eye, but managed to flee. Unable to withstand pain, he first headed to the local hospital, where he received first aid, and then on the advice of the doctors was going towards an eye hospital, when he was stopped by the police and taken to the Sampigehalli Police Training Centre, along with the other farmers. Despite repeated requests, he was not allowed to seek treatment.
Recalling the events on August 15, Pramod said, “I didn’t even realise which police officer hit me, because everything happened so fast and since the police had turned off electricity, we were in complete darkness. I did not receive any treatment, despite them knowing that I was injured. I could get treatment only after they released us at 5.30 pm the same day.” He had to undergo an eye surgery, as his left eye suffered damage to its retina and the lens was shattered as well.
Since the damage to his eye was severe, doctors treating Pramod had to perform an eye surgery. The surgery that cost the farmer nearly Rs 2 lakh, will still not guarantee complete recovery of his vision. “My vision is still very blurry and the doctors are not yet sure how much of my vision will be back. I am however certain that I will not be able to work like I did before,” said Pramod. He is the sole earning member of his family and has a two-year-old daughter. “I’m so young and I’m scared of what the future holds for me and especially when I’m old. I might not be able to work like I did before and will have to resort to taking loans,” he said.
Sharath, an All India Students Association activist who had also been arrested along with the farmers, said, “We had planned on organising a protest by taping our mouths with black tape and holding the national flag, the day when police arrested us. They came to the protest site at 4 am and began arresting us without even letting us know why we were being arrested. They pushed and manhandled many of us, the female police officers even manhandled a 70-year-old woman. However, this arrest has not broken our spirits, if anything it has made us more determined in our cause.” Sharath also said that he believed this arrest was a planned attack by personnel from four police stations, because the government was trying to shut down their protest, since they want to acquire the land before the Global Investors Meet in November, 2022.
Farmers from 13 villages of Channarayapatna hobli in Devanahalli taluk of Bengaluru rural district, have been protesting for more than four months against the proposed land acquisition by Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB). About 1,777 acres of fertile land has been identified for developing the second phase of Haralur Industrial Area. According to the KIADB proposal, the state government will launch a global tender and invite businesses to establish manufacturing plants in Devanahalli. A preliminary notification for the acquisition process was published on August 27, 2021, but the farmers didn’t receive the notice until January 2022. Around 387 families are set to lose their land if KIADB goes ahead with the acquisition plans.
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