Nangal, November 10
The police resorted to a mild lathicharge when a large number of people reached Bhallan village, near here, to protest against ongoing desilting of Swan river-bed today.
A protester, identified as Brij Nandan Puri, allegedly suffered a head injury during the lathicharge.
Though protesters alleged that the police used force without any provocation, the Ropar SSP, Sandeep Garg, denied that there was any lathicharge. He claimed that that cops only tried to control the mob, which reached the desilting site and started pelting stones on policemen and workers present there.
Residents protesting against desilting at Swan river-bed near Bhallan village had started a dharna on November 8 for indefinite period.
Protesters, led by sarpanch Amandeep Sanju, alleged that illegal mining was being done in the name of desilting of the river-bed. The illegal mining in the area had already led to depletion of the underground water table and now desilting would further deteriorate the situation, they said.
Sanju said the village panchayat had already passed a resolution in this regard and still officials of the Mining Department did not stop desilting. On the other hand officials concerned claimed that lifting of gravel and sand was being done for the smooth flow of river water and as per the guidelines.
When the authorities did not stop the desilting operation protesters today reached the site and asked workers, including machine operators and tipper drivers, to leave the spot, which led to the incident.
When contacted, Mining Minister Harjot Singh Bains alleged that a few people with vested interests were misguiding locals over desilting. There was no violation of rules while desilting the river-bed at Bhallan village, the minister said.