Violence outside sugar mill in Motihari on first day of Champaran festival

Patna,(BiharTimes): The first day of the week-long centenary celebration of peaceful Champaran Satyagrah started with violence in Motihari in which two dozen people, at least two of them seriously, got injured when farmers and employees of the Motihari Sugar Factory staged protest on the non-payment of dues.
Motihari is the headquarters of East Champaran district, the focal point of Champaran movement of 1917.
The incident took place on Monday morning when two workers––Naresh Srivastava and Suraj Baitha––tried to immolate themselves. Soon, other workers of the factory and farmers turned violent and started pelting stones on policemen. They did not allow the ambulance to reach the spot to take the two badly burnt employees to hospital.
According to reports the police first caned the agitators and then opened fire to disperse them.
Srivastava and Baitha, who sustained 60-70% burn injury, were later rushed to Patna Medical College and Hospital for treatment.
Employees of the closed private sugar mill have been protesting in front of the main gate for the last three days. They had threatened to immolate themselves if their pending salaries were not released.
Sugarcane farmers had also joined the agitation, demanding immediate payment of their dues.
Motihari SP Jitendra Rana said the policemen fired only three rounds in self-defence as the workers were pelting them with stones.
He said a police team led by inspector Vijay Kumar Yadav reached the site but the angry workers started pelting stones at them. An FIR has been lodged against the protestors for immolating two workers.
Before being shifted to PMCH, Baitha said that the employees and farmers have been on sit-in (dharna) for the last three days, but to no avail.
He said that they had announced self-immolation plan two days earlier, but no one intervened and added their salaries have been due since 2002 when the factory was closed. The farmers have also not been paid around Rs 18 crore.
Meanwhile, former deputy chief minister and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, who reached to the site in the evening, urged the owners of the sugar factory to reopen the unit.
However, the ruling Grand Alliance accused the BJP of deliberately creating trouble to mar the week-long celebration. They asked as to where was Sushil Modi when he was the deputy CM for over seven and a half years, when the sugar mill has been closed since 2002.


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