Four people were killed when the police fired at a group of protesting farmers and fishermen at Sompeta in Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday.
Two more farmers were injured in the firing and are reportedly fighting for their lives. The protestors had started pelting stones at the policemen, who had retaliated by indiscriminate lathi charge.
The police then opened fire on a massive crowd that was opposing the state government's proposal to set up a thermal power plant in the area.
The thermal power plant, to be set up by the Nagarjuna Construction Company, has become a bone of contention for the state government. The local farmers and fishermen are opposing it as they fear that it will adversely impact their fertile lands, water and environment.
While the government had allotted 517 acres of land to the company for the plant, the farmers are worried about the adjoining lands and water resources. They have been staging their protests under the leadership of various non-governmental organisations.
State Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy told the media that 45 policemen were injured in the clashes and the condition of a head constable was serious. The injured victims also include three journalists who were covering the incident. The agitators also burnt two police jeeps, a generator and six vehicles. They also attacked the office of the Nagarjuna Construction Company.
Chief Minister K Rosaiah, who was away in New Delhi, described the violence in Sompeta as 'unfortunate'. He appealed to the people to cooperate with the administration to bring the situation under control. Rosaiah indicated that the government may reconsider the power project.
Opposition parties strongly protested the Sompeta incident and stalled the proceedings in the assembly for ten minutes. Deputy Speaker N Manohar suspended all the Opposition members for the day after his pleas to allow the House's proceeding fell on deaf ears.
The suspended members continued shouting slogans, holding the government responsible for the violence. They alleged that the government was siding with the private sector company while neglecting the sentiments and demands of the poor farmers and fishermen.
Leader of Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu held the state government responsible for the violence.
"People were forced to rise against the government as they feared losing their lands and source of livelihood," he said.
He also strongly criticised the government for not fulfilling its promises of rehabilitation for the evicted families in the past.