Assam: Farmers baton-charged for protesting auction of oilfields


Police on Saturday baton-charged farmers protesting against auction of 67 oilfields across the country, including 12 blocks in Assam, at the venue of a roadshow in the city where Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan was present. Police detained the nearly 100 protesters and took them to nearby police station. The farmers, who were protesting under the aegis of RTI activist Akhil Gogoi led Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), were demanding exclusion of the 12 blocks in Assam and withdrawal of FDI in oil sector.

Pradhan was holding a one-day roadshow at a five-star hotel here to attract bidders for the 67 oilfields across the country. Gogoi-led protesters reached the hotel and started shouting slogans inside the compound just in front of the meeting hall, where scores of government officials and potential bidders were present, police said. When police and organizers asked the agitators to vacate the premise, they refused to do so.

Police the lathicharged them and forcefully evicted from the spot. When contacted, Guwahati Police Commissioner Anil Kumar Jha told PTI: "They were protesting without any permission by violating the rules. We requested them first to vacate the place, but they didn't listen." The Centre will put 12 small oilfields of the state under auction along with 55 other such discoveries across the country.

"All these 67 oilfields were discovered during the last 8-40 years and are with Oil India and ONGC. As these are small oilfields, these were not so financially viable. Now we are targeting to garner Rs 30,000 crore from the auctioning of these 67 blocks," Pradhan had said yesterday. The bidding for all the oilfields will start on July 15.