Villagers of Bharala in the Neem ka Thana region of the Sikar district found a novel way of registering their protest against the mine operators in the area by burning their banners in the customary pyre of Holi festivities. While celebrating Holi, residents of the village gave vent to their anger and narrated the hardships faced by them due to mining activities.The Neem ka Thana region has witnessed confrontations between villagers and mine operators over the years, with the latter allegedly attacking the local residents and activists. Activists allege that the accused are politically connected.On Sunday, villagers decorated the Holi pyre with banners containing the pledge to fight against the mine operators. As the pyre of wood and cow dung cakes caught fire, villagers raised slogans such as ‘Avaidh khanan murdabad’ (‘down with illegal mining’), ‘Prashasan maun kyon?’ (‘why is the administration silent’) and ‘Hamara pani hamara adhikaar’ (‘our water is our right’).“For too long, we have been facing paucity of water due to mining, houses developed cracks because of blasts, and dust particles from stone crushers affect our health. It was time to make the mining mafia realise their mistakes,” Kailash Meena, an activist in the forefront of agitation, told The Hindu.After burning the Holi pyre, villagers celebrated the festival of colours on Monday with the pledge to fight out for their rights. Mr. Meena said a posse of policemen was deployed in Bharala to control any trouble, but the residents of the village had already declared that they wanted to stage a peaceful protest.Fight for rightsOnly recently, a villager Mahesh Saini was threatened by the operators of mines, while noted environmental activist Radheyshyam Shuklawas sustained head injuries in a violent attack on him in the Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board office in Jaipur on February 2.In November 2014, local anti-mining activist Shankar Lal Meena was attacked and the police did not take any action in the case despite a series of demonstrations by the villagers.While pointing out it was their right to get clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and irrigate crops and pasture land for their cattle, activists have been demanding expeditious action against stone crushers and mines operating in defiance of the government orders. Mr. Meena said the demand for a probe by a retired High Court judge to find out the impact on people’s health, environment and agriculture was also pending.