Bangalore(DHNS): Home Minister K J George on Monday informed the legislature that the police opened fire at the protesting farmers at Kudagi on Saturday in self defence as the farmers went on a rampage and tried to set afire a police outpost after locking up policemen inside it.
However, citing that the response was inadequate, the Opposition BJP staged a walkout in both the houses protesting against the party’s demand for a judicial probe into the incident.
The government had hitherto maintained that the police had not opened fire at the protesters and that only rubber bullets were fired in the air in order to bring the situation under control.
In his reply in the Assembly, George turned down the BJP’s demand for a judicial probe and strongly defended the police firing. “The police cannot remain mute spectators when public and private properties are being damaged.
We have to protect law and order,” he stated. At the Council, George said that the Opposition demands of a judicial probe will be met only if the magisterial probe is proved not satisfactory.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the police resorted to firing as there was a threat to engineers from Japan and Korea who were working at the plant. About 30 to 40 engineers from these countries were involved in the work. The situation had gone out of control, he stated and added that he regretted the incident.
The home minister further said steps will be taken to withdraw cases filed against innocent farmers, if any.
He also announced compensation of Rs 1 lakh to each of those who have been hospitalised and Rs 25,000 each to the injured the incident. The government has ordered a magisterial inquiry and the Bijapur Deputy Commissioner has been directed to submit a report in 45 days, George said.
He said about 500 farmers who were protesting against implementation of a thermal power plant by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) at Kudagi in Bijapur district, went on a rampage at the project site.
Number of vehicles belonging to NTPC and the police were set afire. The mob also set on fire NTPC workers’ quarters, sheds and a police outpost in the vicinity.
NGOs which do not want the power plant in the Bijapur region have worked for the last five months in villages surrounding the Kudagi plant and generated mass hysteria against the project, he added.