A group of farmers, led by P.R. Pandian of All Farmers’ Associations, were arrested near Sakkottai in Thanjavur district on Tuesday when they were going to Kathiramangalam to meet the villagers, who have been demanding that Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) stop operations at the village.
Police sources said Mr. Pandian, along with six others, was proceeding in a car to Kathiramangalam when they were intercepted by the police and taken into preventive custody.
On June 2, more than 350 residents of the village were taken into preventive custody when they attempted to thwart repair and maintenance operations at ONGC rigs at the village, where the oil major’s operations have been going on for years.
The residents had alleged that the ONGC was trying to explore methane and shale gas. The ONGC officials, however, stated that they were only carrying out maintenance work on the rigs and pipelines. Following the incident, a strong posse of police has been deployed there.
Mr. Pandian strongly condemned the arrest, saying he only intended to meet the people and had not planned to stage any agitation. All the arrested were later released, police sources said.