Women farmers from Junagadh on Sunday sent a letter written in blood to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi urging him to talk to them over the issue of the Jetpur-Somnath national highway, an activist associated with the protest said.
"If you can talk to your brothers in Bihar, why can't you talk to your sisters in Junagadh," the women farmers wrote in their letter to Modi.
With a project to expand the said highway on the anvil, the National Highways Authority of India had asked the state government to acquire land for the same.
To that end, district officials had undertaken a mapping and measurement exercise which had begun June 25. Protesting farmers had been detained during the survey process.
Atul Patel of Khedut Hitrakshak Samiti says they have been seeking an appointment with the CM for over three years to discuss the project, but their request has never been entertained.
Now, 101 women farmers have written to Modi as the previous communication sent to him via letters, postcards, SMS and e-mails has drawn no response, Patel said.
Farmers from 10 villages in Vanthali and Junagadh talukas in the district have been protesting against land acquisition on the grounds that the land marked for the project is fertile.
Patel noted that conversion of the two-lane Jetpur-Somnath national highway to a four-lane one was a technically and economically viable plan for which the state government had even completed the tendering process after getting an environmental clearance from the Centre.
But he alleged that the state government had thereafter changed the project alignment under political and financial pressure.
From the planned 7.9-km expansion, the highway's length was increased to 20-km, a move which also raised the project cost, Patel alleged.
Importantly, Patel said that the project would see 280 farming families lose their fertile land.
The agitation in question comes in the wake of protests by farmers over the Mandal-Becharaji highway in Ahmedabad and Mehsana districts and the state government's move to notify the region as a Special Investment Region.