A relay hunger strike was launched in front of the Deputy Commissioner's office here on Thursday in support of Gregory Patrao, a farmer who has been fighting against the acquisition of his house and land for phase three of Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd. (MRPL).

Mr. Patrao's house was demolished on April 28 after his petition challenging the land acquisition by the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board was dismissed by the High Court. Mr. Patrao has claimed that his house is more than 350 years old.

The family members of Mr. Patrao and representatives of citizens' groups and various organisations took part in the hunger strike of Thursday. Mr. Patrao, who launched the strike by lighting a torch, said that he would continue the fast till he got justice. “I will fast every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. My mother is not well, but she too will fast from Friday. My younger brother and sister will also come,” he said and added that two of his colleagues in the Bala Gram Panchayat would also join the fast.

Twenty-two organisations have extended support to Mr. Patrao and his family. President of the Catholic Sabha Walter Pinto said that from Friday onwards members of one organisation each would fast along with Mr. Patrao.

District president of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha K. Rohitaksha Rai said, “Even though it is time for us to cultivate the land, we have left our fields to come here and support Mr. Patraro.

Officials and politicians who sit in the comfort of their offices in Bangalore and Delhi do not understand the difficulties of a farmer. The Government is responsible for the difficulties faced by farmers.”

Mr. Bhat demanded that Mr. Patrao and his family be allowed to reside in their house and continue to cultivate their land until they explored all legal options available to them.

Their belongings, including agricultural produce and jewellery worth over Rs. 24 lakh, should be returned to them, and the criminal cases lodged against Mr. Patrao, members of his family and others should be withdrawn.

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