Gujarat police say they had detaiend the activists in view of the dignitaries in the city for the Vibrant Gujarat summit. (Press Trust of India)
Even as the Gujarat government announced the successful conduct of the 7th Vibrant Gujarat global business summit, several farmers organisations and activists have criticised the police crackdown on farmers who were planning protest demonstrations on the inaugural day of the summit on Sunday.
Those who were detained by the police include prominent activisits Indukumar Jani, Rohit Shukla, and Gautam Thakar. Farmers organizations claimed that hundreds of farmers were detained even before they could assemble on the outskirts of Gandhinagar for the protest meet.
The farmers have been protesting for the last few months demanding revision of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for cotton. Reports of farmers suicide due to inadequate MSP have been reported from the Saurashtra region of the state.
The farmers organisations had demanded revision of the MSP and had threatened an intensified agitation if their demands were not met by January 11. On the inaugural day of the event, the activisits and farmers had planned to take out a march to the Mahatma Mandir in the Gujarat capital to press for their demands.
However, activists claimed police swooped down on their residences, and at some places near the organisational offices and detained them for several hours.
"We were not told any reason why we were being detained. We were confined to the police station for almost six to seven hours. Our cellphones were also taken from us," alleged activist Bharatsinh Jhala.
In a separate statement, Sagar Rabari, leader of the Gujarat Khedut Samaj, which is one of the three organisations which were planning the farmers' protest, said, "An iron curtain of police presence all over Gujarat was a display of a hell-shocked and petrified government."
"During campaigning for the 2014 elections, those who shouted slogans like 'Subsidy in Mutton, why not for Cotton?', are today clamping down on the reasonable demands of the farmers," he added.
Gujarat police have however claimed that the detentions were carried out to prevent a major law and order problem in view of several high profile dignitaries coming in for the Vibrant Gujarat summit.