Five killed in police firing in Greater Noida (Lead)

August 13th, 2008 - 9:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Greater Noida, Aug 13 (IANS) Five people were killed Wednesday in firing by police on farmers protesting inadequate compensation for their land being acquired in Uttar Pradesh’s booming Greater Noida region bordering the national capital. About 2,000 farmers had gathered outside the Greater Noida authority office to demand higher compensation for land acquired in previous years for infrastructure projects, including industries and an international airport which has now been shelved.

Police initially resorted to a baton-charge to disperse the farmers, who had intensified their agitation and wanted to storm the authority office.

When the baton-charge failed to quell the angry farmers who suddenly made a charge, police opened fire in which five farmers were killed.

In a retaliatory move, the farmers started began pelting the cops with rocks and other handy missiles, leaving a few including Noida senior superintendent of police R.K.Chatuirvedi injured.

An official spokesman, however, put the casualties at three.

“Three persons were killed in the clash provoked by some anti-social element,” V.S.Pandey, principal secretary to the chief minister, told mediapersons.

While clarifying that the Greater Noida incident had nothing to do with Chief Minister Mayawati’s native village Badalpur where farmers had earlier protested against “poor compensation” for similarly acquired land, Pandey claimed that the demand of the protesting farmers was “unjustified”.

“As against the officially settled compensation at the rate of Rs.406 per sq metre, we paid the farmers at the rate of Rs.850 per sq metre. But apparently under instigation by some interested parties, they began demanding several times higher payment,” said Pandey.

“When they were prevented from gate crashing into the Greater Noida office, they started pelting stones on the cops, many of whom were injured. Finally driven against the wall, they had to use force(firing) to disperse the crowds,” he added.

Addressing a press conference later, former chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav criticised the Mayawati government for “unleashing terror” on innocent and peacefully agitating farmers.

He said that nearly 200 villages and thousands of farmers were affected by Mayawati’s “anti-farmer” land acquisition policy.

He condemned the government for taking away rich agricultural land of farmers for a song and allegedly selling the same to the big developers and builders on a fat premium.

While refuting the official claim about only three deaths, Mulayam gave out the names of five farmers who he claimed had died in the firing.

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