Thousands turned up on the highway near Kalyan, vehicles were torched and close to 10 cops were injured in the violence

Thousands of farmers from Nevali in Kalyan went on a rampage at 8 am today against the acquisition of land by the Navy for the international airport. They damaged private and government vehicles. Residents of Bhal and Nevali took to the streets and raised anti-state slogans.

They blocked traffic on arterial roads leading to Malanggadh, the Badlapur-Ambernath road as well as those leading to Navi Mumbai, and burned tyres at Nevali naka and Davalpada. When the local police tried to dispel the crowd at a few places, they were brutally attacked. Nearly 10 policemen, including Assistant Commissioner of Police Sunil Patil, sustained injuries.

The protest, which began on a rather sober note, blew up in no time. The police failed to anticipate the anger and the growing crowds. It took them three hours to respond and contain the protest.

They fired pellets on the violent protesters, during which around four sustained injuries. The injured protesters were taken to the local hospital for treatment.

After the protesters turned violent, the police fired pellets to disperse the crowds

At the time of going to press, a heavy posse of police personnel was deployed at troubled areas.

Local farmers said anger over the land acquisition process had been simmering for years.

The land comes under the Navy’s jurisdiction, but had been encroached upon over the years. It began taking back its property when the state launched the international airport plan.

The farmers, however, charged the Navy with forceful acquisition. They claimed that their repeated pleas to the state for intervention had gone ignored, ultimately leading to today’s flare-up.

They said the trigger for the protest came when the farmers were stopped from entering their own agricultural land this farming season. 

mid-day's report on July 24, 2010, on the civil aviation ministry's plan on building Mumbai's second airport at the flatlands of Ambernath

Many of the protesters were associated with the local Jamin Bachao Andolan Committee and were headed by Nevali gram panchayat chief Chainu Jadhav.

Despite repeated attempts, regional Additional Commissioner of Police Pratap Dighavkar was not available for comment.