Wooed by opposition, protesting farmers throng Delhi (Lead)

August 26th, 2010 - 7:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, Aug 26 (IANS) Courted by opposition parties, thousands of farmers from several states poured into the capital Thursday to demand enhanced compensation for their lands being acquired for the Yamuna Expressway project in Uttar Pradesh.
Jantar Mantar, the usual venue of protests near Parliament House, and the vast Ram Lila Ground, where the buses that ferried the thousands of farmers were parked, were packed with protesters who had come from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and other states. This led to the inevitable traffic trouble with jams reported from areas around Connaught Place.

“We will not stop protesting till our demands are met,” declared Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh to loud applause from the protesters who rose in support.

He added that the government should ensure that farmers were not cheated of their lands.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Arun Jaitley said both the central and the state governments were responsible for the situation in Aligarh in western Uttar Pradesh that had resulted in the killing of two farmers recently.

“BJP will oppose all anti-farmer moves,” he said.

The farmers’ agitation in the Mathura and Aligarh districts has become an issue of political oneupmanship with the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) blaming the central government for what it calls archaic land acquisition laws. The Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Samajwadi Party and other parties in turn blame the BSP for mishandling the farmers’ agitation for higher compensation amounts.

Farmers intensified their stir after two protesters were killed in police firing in Aligarh district Aug 14.

Demanding the prosecution of the policemen involved in the shooting of the two farmers, Brinda Karat, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader, said: “The authorities should prosecute the policemen involved in the killing of two farmers.”

Stressing that India could not afford to ignore its farmers, Janata Dal-United (JD-U) chief Sharad Yadav said: “New India needs to be created from the land of farmers. It’s high time the government stops ignoring them.”

Attacking BSP chief Mayawati, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan said: “Mayawati can spend crores of rupees on making statues of Kanshi Ram and herself. So why not compensate the farmers?”

Most farmers are reluctant to strike any deal with the government over their lands.

Said an angry Bhagat Pal from Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh: “We want our land back, no questions asked. We won’t settle for anything else. The deal is twisted in such a way that we won’t have our lands or enough money to support ourselves for even a year.”

Om Pal Singh from Meerut added that the compensation money should be not less than Rs.30 lakh for an acre. “It is in the high yielding, flourishing basin of the Yamuna. If we move out, we won’t find such a land anywhere and that is a loss with which we’ll have to live with.”

Farmers in Uttar Pradesh have been agitating for higher compensation for their lands acquired for the Yamuna Expressway, which is expected to bring the driving time between New Delhi and Agra — a distance of 203 km — down to about 90 minutes.

The expressway will pass through Gautam Buddha Nagar (Noida), Aligarh, Mahamaya Nagar (Hathras) and Mathura districts, and involves acquisition of land in 115 villages.

A total of 2,500 hectares is to be acquired for the development of the expressway — 500 hectares each in Noida, Aligarh and Agra and 1,000 hectares in Gautam Buddha Nagar.

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