Mumbai: Police on Sunday lathicharged farmers at a function to be addressed by Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan at Khadke-Wake village in Ahmed Nagar district.
Around 15 agitators of `Nilwande Kalava Kriti Samiti` (Nilwande canal action committee), which spearheaded the protest, were reportedly detained by police following the incident.
The farmers and members of the committee were "angry" over not receiving enough water from the canal.
The incident occurred ahead of Chavan`s visit to the venue, where he was to inaugurate a Horticulture and Vegetable Export Facility Centre.
The farmers denied that they created any ruckus and accused police of beating them without provocation.
"We were sitting there and looking at the programme peacefully. We were waiting there for the CM to arrive and speak to us. The police suddenly came and tried to push us out of the programme. When we resisted their attempts, the police personnel started beating us with lathis mercilessly," said Nanasaheb Jhavre, an activist.
"What have we been asking for? We have only been asking for drinking water from the last 45 years. There are 182 villages across 7 talukas in the district that are deprived of proper drinking water facilities. What is wrong in asking for our rights?" he asked.
Chavan later met agitating farmers to discuss their problems and apologised over the incident.
Meanwhile, in a separate programme at Loni village in the district, the Chief Minister and some of his cabinet colleagues accompanying him, were shown black and yellow flags by the members of Dhangar (cattle rearing) community demanding Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
Despite repeated attempts, calls made to Additional SP, Sunita Thakre, Shrirampur division, and Dy SP Vivek Patil, Shirdi, remained unanswered.