Veteran anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare and his supporters staged a protest in New Delhi on Tuesday against the detention of social activist Medha Patkar by police in Madhya Pradesh.
Patkar was arrested on November 4 in Madhya Pradesh's Chhindwara district along with some of her supporters, where she was leading a Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (KSS) protest against the eviction of farmers from their land for upcoming power projects in the Pench region of the district.
The demonstrators, many dressed in black and playing songs of protest to the beats of a tambourine, raised slogans against the Madhya Pradesh Government, demanding that the activist be set free.
Hazare assured the protesters that if Patkar was not released, the agitation would be taken forward on a larger scale.
Safeguarding farmland against the creep of industrialisation to ensure food security is a priority for the left-leaning government led by Sonia Gandhi's Congress party, which relies heavily on rural voters for support.
Back in 2004, when it came to power, Congress pledged to overhaul a law whose wide definition of "public use" means people can be turfed without much ado off their land, and which omitted to lay down rules for compensation and rehabilitation.
The new bill is expected to propose the establishment of a quasi-judicial body to settle disputes over compensation within six months, doing away with the practice of going to lower civil courts where cases routinely drag on for years.
But social activists like Patkar believe that the new law, despite its provisions to make compensation fairer, will build in a bias towards land developers at the expense of small landholders. (ANI)