They were fasting as part of demonstration against SEZ project

Eight participants, including two children, in a ‘continuous fasting' demonstration being staged by the residents of Servoikandigai village panchayat in Tiruvallur district, were admitted for treatment to a hospital at Ponneri.

The demonstrators, who gathered under the banner ‘Movement to Protest Formation of Special Economic Zone' in Servoikandigai panchayat, took up fasting from February 15 after eight persons — Mahesh, Kuppan, Dhanraj and five others — were arrested by the police.

The trio were leading protest demonstrations of the villagers since 2007 when the State government announced that around 1,200 acres of land in the area would be acquired by State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamilnadu (SIPCOT) for setting up of SEZs by industrial establishments, according to Mr. Nicholas of Dalit Land Rights Federation, a constituent of the Movement to Protest Formation of SEZs.

Villagers were using the lands, large parts of which were under grazing poromboke land category, for rearing livestock as well as herbal plants. The area identified and acquired by the SIPCOT also served as a catchment area for lakes situated in and around the village panchayat, he added.

Ms. Madumitha, coordinator of the movement, said that villagers who vehemently opposed construction work taken up by a multi-national tyre company recently, accepted an offer for negotiation in the presence of the Collector on January 23. However, on the very same day police arrested eight persons on charges of trespassing.

Angered by this, villagers took up continuous fasting demanding immediate unconditional release of the eight persons, withdrawal of the SIPCOT project and pending cases against 61 persons, arrested during the demonstrations held in 2007 protesting the government's announcement to acquire lands in Servoikandigai village panchayat for setting up SEZs.

Sangeetha (10), daughter of Senthilkumar, Roopini (8), daughter of Shankar, D.Mary, D.Kuppammal, G.Santhoshammal, K.Kiliammal and M.Santhoshammal were admitted to hospital.

Keywords: SEZ projectfasting