Fatehabad (Haryana), Sep 9 (IANS) Citing Fukushima, farmers here in Haryana are vehemently opposing a proposal to set up a nuclear power plant in their midst.
Fukushima was ravaged by a nuclear disaster after earthquake and tsunami devasted Japan in March, a dark prospect that farmers of Gorakhpur village in Fatehabad want to avoid.
In the last three days - while Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has been in Japan wooing investment for his state - the farmers are on the streets with a yet-to-be-cremated body of one of them who died while protesting against acquisition of farm land for the proposed plant.
Accompanying Hooda in Japan are ministers and businessmen.
The farmers, who are protesting outside the mini-secretariat complex of the Fatehabad district administration, have refused to cremate the body of Ishwar Singh who died Tuesday.
'Even if we all have to die, we will not let our land be acquired,' Dayawanti, daughter of the dead farmer, told a gathering of farmers at the protest site.
The Haryana government initiated acquisition proceedings for the nuclear plant last year.
'Hooda may be in Japan but he is unmindful of the tragedy in Fukushima,' farmer Sher Singh told IANS. 'We do not want another Fukushima to happen here. We will not give our land.'
The agitation in Fatehabad is not the only one the Hooda government is facing. In recent months there have been protests against land takeover in Rohtak, Ambala, Panipat and other places.
The land acquisition policy of the Hooda government has been touted as one of the 'best' in the country. It has been applauded by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
But others look at it differently.
'The agricultural land of farmers is being forcibly acquired by the Hooda government which is playing into the hands of corporates, big construction companies and land mafia,' opposition leader and Indian National Lok Dal president Om Prakash Chautala has said. 'All this must stop.'
In July, the Hooda government unilaterally decided to keep all new land acquisition moves pending till the central government framed a national legislation on land acquisition policy. It followed growing opposition to land acquisition in various parts of Haryana.
'We have the best land acquisition policy in the country. Being a farmer myself, I can understand the concerns of the farmers,' Hooda said, justifying his government's stand.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)