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Rahul Gandhi visit to Aligarh Farmers jubilant at the sight of their beloved leader

Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi made a surprise visit to Aligarh, fulfilling the request of agitated farmers to come upon there to boost the morale and support the genuine cause of farmers. The visit is certain to bolster the cause of hundreds of local farmers from several villages in and around the under construction Yamuna Expressway linking Delhi and Agra. As usual, his unscheduled visit caught the administration napping and brought the cheers among affected farmers. Surprising visit has been the trademark of his strategy of making the glare of media away from the real cause. He went to the family whose child fell to bullet and gave condolences for their lost ones.

Braving the rains, he interacted with the farmers and offered assurance that their interest will be taken care of. ‘I will do my best to raise your concerns and issues at the appropriate forum,’ he said in Zereakpur village.

There has been a longstanding demand of farmers that the Land Acquisition Act be amended so that the farmers and weaker section of the society could no longer be at the receiving end. They called for the parity in the rate of acquisition between here and Noida and Greater Noida.

There is still a lot of difference between the compensation being offered here and that paid to owners of agricultural land in Greater Noida. Farmers have stressed upon the compensation to be made equally with that of their brethren in Noida and Greater Noida.

Following are some of the grievances of the concerned and affected farmers:

Middle-aged Ramvati from low income agrarian background, along with hundred others from her Jikarpur village and those in the vicinity, were protesting the acquisition of land for the Yamuna Expressway, couple of days ago. Tappal in Aligarh district of UP is about 88-kms from Delhi.

Hundreds of locals hailing from several villages in-and-around the under-construction expressway here, were standing together and occasionally, raising voices against the
Mayawati-run government and the atrocious attack by the police force on them.

Unlike other occasions, media persons did not have to look for those who can voice the issue sensibly but many villagers were willingly coming to them to give their versions and at the same time, not forgetting to target the powers-that-be, responsible for this sordid status of affairs. Old, middle aged and even young among them seemed to be fully guarded to negate all visible and invisible forces, trying to snatch their lands – the only means of livelihood for many of them.

The issue related to acquisition has been a hot topic for sometime now but what aggravated it the amount of compensation offered by the state government and by subsequent attempts to thwart the agitation by affected farmers here.

Says Sundar Singh Balyan, a farmer of village Taharpur, “The state government has become a broker for private builders like J P Group, who are keen on acquiring land in Tappal surrounding the proposed Yamuna Expressway. We do not give our lands and we do not want any compensation. A writ petition in this regard for about 150 hectares of such land is pending in the Supreme Court.”

In the adjoining areas, politicians and senior government officials including four IAS and IPS officers, have acquired lands, in connivance with the state machinery, as investments for good returns later on, he points out the possible connivance.

“Earlier on a regular basis, district officials including district magistrate (DM) and sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) visited us, forcing us for ‘kararnama’ (agreement) for acquisition of our land. They forced me to sign the ‘kararnama’ for my 15 bighas of land. We do not want to give our land which is the only source of livelihood for me and my fellow-villagers here. Politician Ajit Singh was given land along the main Palwal-Aligarh main road in this region, by MLA Mahinder Singh,” says Anil Kumar Pradhan, farmer, Nagla Kurana Village

“We have been protesting peacefully against forceful acquisition of our land. Our standing crops were destroyed by the officials. Tappal police station house officer Uday Singh Malik shot dead our three innocent boys and I was witness to that barbaric incident few days ago at the agitation venue,” says Balyan.

Even the woman folk in this rural belt are not in mood to obey the dictates of the state government. Jagwati of Krupalpur village narrates, “I have two small kids to look after and we toil through out the day in our fields, for our survival. We will die rather than giving away our lands.”

Rambiri of Jikarpur village told this correspondent that they were lathi-charged and their innocent children were shot dead. “We do not accept this Mayawati and her government. We will not give our lands, even if offered higher compensations,” she says.

Many like farmer Dayanand of Atari village strongly believe that in case, their lands are acquired forcefully from us, they will become terrorists and naxalites to ensure that whoever comes here faces dire consequences. And for this, Mayawati government and the administration will be responsible, they say.

Going by the expressions of the agitators, it appears that issue could snowball into major crisis for the Mayawati-run state government, if good sense in the corridors of power does not prevail for an amicable solution, with much delay.

This article is posted by Press Brief.