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Farmers' Unrest Spreads To Agra; Noida Toll Rises To 4

Agra/Greater Noida, May 8: Agitation over land acquisition today spread to Agra with farmers clashing with police and setting ablaze vehicles as the toll rose to four in violence-hit Greater Noida, where police announced a
PTI May 08, 2011 21:17 IST

Agra/Greater Noida, May 8: Agitation over land acquisition today spread to Agra with farmers clashing with police and setting ablaze vehicles as the toll rose to four in violence-hit Greater Noida, where police announced a Rs 50,000 reward for a peasant leader's arrest for “inciting” protests.

Some people also tried to demonstrate in Mathura and Aligarh, but situation remained under control due to “timely police intervention”, Director General of Police Karamveer Singh said, while denying reports of fresh trouble in Tappal village in Aligarh.

“Four policemen were injured when farmers turned violent during a protest and indulged in arson” in Chaugaan village in Aitmadpur in Agra, Special Director General of Police (Law and Order) Brij Lal said in Lucknow.

He said irate villagers torched several vehicles and tents at a construction site, demanding higher compensation for the land acquired for the Yamuna Expressway.

The villagers allegedly opened fire, following which police used force to disperse the agitating mob, Agra DIG Aseem Arun told reporters. “There was firing from the villagers' side, but the police worked with restrain,” he said, adding the situation is under control.

Singh said searches were carried out in Bhatta Parsaul and Achchepur villages in Delhi's suburb Gautam Buddha Nagar which was hit by violence yesterday, and some people have been held.  He did not give any specific number.

“Situation in Bhatta Parsaul is under control, heavy police force is camping in the area and some fresh arrests have been carried out,” Brij Lal said.

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC have been clamped in the district. Area around the village has been sealed off by the Provincial Armed Constabulary and the dharna site made out of bounds.

A protester, identified as Kalu, injured in yesterday's clashes between police and farmers in Gautam Buddha Nagar died, taking the toll to four in the violence, police said.

Two policemen - Manvir Singh and Manohar Singh - and a farmer Rajveer were killed yesterday in clashes that erupted after police swooped on the village to rescue three state roadways employees held hostage by the farmers since Friday.

The UP police announced a reward of Rs 50,000 for arrest of Manvir Singh Tewatia, who has been leading the farmers' agitation at Bhatta Parsaul since January 17.

“Tewatia along with around 50 men has been instigating innocent farmers. 99 per cent farmers are satisfied with the new rehabilitation policy of the state,” Brij Lal, who visited the village to take stock of situation last night, said.

District Magistrate Deepak Aggarwal, who suffered a bullet wound in his leg, and Senior SP S N Singh, who was also injured along with scores of others, were recuperating. Their condition was stable, officials said.

The police action drew condemnation from BJP, RLD, JD-U, SP and Congress, whose leaders slammed the Mayawati government for the situation.

Brij Lal said, “Raids are being carried out to arrest the trouble makers and efforts are on to trace and arrest Tewatia.”

Police sources claimed that most protesters have gone into hiding.

Villagers alleged that personnel of Provincial Armed Constabulary misbehaved and ransacked houses, a charge denied by the force.

Condemning the police action on agitating farmers, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said there was need to talk to farmers and find out a solution. “We condemn the behaviour of the UP police and the government. The answer to farmers' demands is not police firing,” he said.

RLD chief Ajit Singh, who was not allowed to visit the agitation spot and detained by the police, said the action by the district administration was regrettable.

“That is a very sad thing, very regrettable....we have full sympathy with those who died,” he said.

“After what happened in Bhatta Parsaul village, we just wanted to go their and pacify people, listen to their problems, establish a dialogue with the farmers,” he said.

Singh, who was released later, said the situation has cropped up as Chief Minister Mayawati was unwilling to listen to the problems faced by farmers.

“People are fed up as their land is being taken over in the name of expressway and given to builders and industrialists, he said, adding the compensation given to farmers was inadequate.

Meanwhile, RLD state chief Baba Hardev Singh demanded a probe by a sitting Supreme Court judge into the clashes.

“The Uttar Pradesh government has been acquiring the farmers' land without their consent and without fixing the rate of land,” he said in Ghaziabad.

The Congress too demanded a high-level probe either by a sitting judge of the High Court and or the CBI into the incident.

“The entire incident should be probed either by a sitting judge of the HC or CBI. We also demand an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh each to kin of those killed,” PCC chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi said.

She said the party was contacting Human Rights Commission and National Commission for Women and added that the government should take the incident seriously to prevent it from taking an ugly turn.

SP state chief Akhilesh Yadav said a fact finding committee of the party including leader of opposition Shivpal Yadav and national general secretary Mohan Singh would visit the troubled areas.

JD-U chief Sharad Yadav accused the Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh of being “hand in glove with the land mafia” and said land acquisition should be stopped till Parliament enacts a new law on it.

“Not just in Noida, there is a nationwide resentment among farmers against the land acquisition, which is carried out on the basis of an outdated act,” he told reporters here.

Yadav made a strong demand for a CBI inquiry into the Noida violence which left two farmers and as many policemen dead.

There were reports of the state government considering transfer of some senior police officers, but there was no official word on it. PTI

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