Hundreds of people turned up for a demonstration outside the Deputy Commissioner's office here on Thursday in a show of solidarity with farmer and Bala Gram Panchayat member Gregory Patrao, who has been on a hunger strike for 21 days against the acquisition of his land.

The Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board's officials evicted the family of Mr. Patrao from their land and demolished their 350-year-old house in April for phase 3 of Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd.

Thursday's demonstration was led by Visvesha Tirtha of Pejawar Math, who said that the system had failed Mr. Patrao. Demanding that his land be returned unconditionally, he said that it was the constitutional right of every citizen to defend his land.

William Martez, Mangalore Diocesan priest from the Udyavara church, said that there was no hope for Mr. Patrao's struggle. “The administration is least bothered about his protest,” he said. Expressing dismay at the scant respect shown to the institution of civil protest, the priest said, “It is time we thought of creative and more assertive forms of protest.” Quoting the example of the sort of protest against land acquisition launched by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Bannerjee in West Bengal, he said, “We have to do something decisive.” The people who had gathered at the venue were spurred into raising slogans by Vimukti, a ballad troupe that rendered several satirical songs against the district administration.

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