Millennium Post

12 Thane police men injured as farmers' protest turns violent

At least 12 policemen and four protesters were injured and a police van set blaze when farmers' opposition to the take-over of land for a new airport turned violent in Maharashtra on Thursday, the police said.

Thane Police Commissioner Parambir Singh told the media that at least 12 policemen were injured in stone-pelting by the protesters at Nevali village near Kalyan here.

When the police retaliated with pellet guns, at least four protesters sustained injuries. All the injured have been rushed to hospitals nearby.

Singh added that the police would book the protesters on various charges, including attempt to murder for the attacks on policemen and damage to public properties.

He said additional forces have been rushed to the scene of the rioting and the situation "is under control".

Than's Guardian Minister Eknath Shinde, who rushed to the spot, said that the farmers' opposition to acquisition of an old British-era airstrip and land surrounding it has been pending since long.

"We shall initiate discussions with the Defence Ministry to resolve the issue at the earliest," he told the media.

The farmers were opposing the acquisition of the abandoned airstrip for constructing a new airport at Nevali, around 40 km north-east of Mumbai.

Several hundreds of farmers blocked traffic on the Ambednath-Dombivali Road and Kalyan-Haji Malang Road on Thursday morning, burnt tyres on the roads, pelted stones and even torched a police van.

Additional forces were rushed from neighbouring towns and the situation was finally brought under control within a few hours.

Meanwhile, a Defence spokesperson said that the land in question was owned by the Ministry of Defence -- Indian Navy, which was certified by Maharashtra government's land records.

"The Indian Navy is constructing a peripheral boundary wall to protect and safeguard the defence land from further encroachments," the spokesperson said.

He added that the state government was fully aware of the issue and providing police support for this.

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