Thursday, August 19, 2010

|bhartiya kisan union

TAPPAL (ALIGARH): After their protest lost the fizz, farmers in Aligarh are now reorganising themselves under the leadership of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU).

BKU president Mahendra Singh Tikait will visit Tappal on August 20 along with his supporters. He is expected to announce formation of a Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (KSS) comprising farmer representatives from all the districts -- Agra, Mathura and Aligarh -- affected by Yamuna Expressway and associated townships -- to launch a joint struggle for compensation at par with what has been paid to farmers in Noida and Greater Noida.

"Tikait saheb (Mahendra Singh Tikait) will visit Meerut and Agra on August 19 and will reach Tappal on August 20," Rakesh Tikait, son of BKU president, told TOI on telephone. He said BKU will bring farmers of all the affected regions under one umbrella for a combined struggle. "Since Tikait saheb is not keeping well, he will leave after addressing the farmers and then KSS will decide the future course of action," he added.

Meanwhile, the BKU leaders moved swiftly in Aligarh and took charge of the agitation in Tappal on Wednesday after the unceremonious exit of farmer leader Ram Babu Katelia. They also formed a 61-member committee comprising farmers from the villages affected by the expressway project. Besides seeking high compensation for the acquired land, farmers also demanding action against police personnel who fired at farmers on August 14.

"BKU will bring 100 buses full of farmers from all over the state to Aligarh for a massive demonstration," announced BKU national general secretary Rajpal Sharma, while addressing farmers at Tappal. BKU Aligarh divisional president Chaudhary Ajab Singh said the government wants us to divide on caste, communal and political lines but KSS will be a apolitical body and work on the basis of consensus and not depend on any individual.

However, the number of farmers at the demonstration site in Tappal dwindled on Wednesday. Only about 200 people were seen on the spot and they too looked dejected. Majority cursed Katelia for `sabotaging' the movement. Katelia was leading the agitation and was arrested on August 14. That led to largescale violence in which three persons were killed in police firing. While in custody, he reached an agreement with the government. According to the agreement, the compensation was increased to Rs 5.70 lakh per bigha from Rs 4.49 lakh. Further, the farmers would not be forced to part with their land. Farmers, however, rejected the agreement and forced Katelia to leave.

Surendra Singh Baliyan, a local farmer leader, claimed: "In Jewar, the compensation given to the farmers for the land acquired is Rs 8.80 lakh per bigha, in Noida Rs 9.30 lakh per bigha and in Greater Noida Rs 9.80 lakh per bigha, whereas here we have been offered Rs 5.70 lakh per bigha. The discrimination is being done despite the land here being more fertile."

Shyam, another farmer, said: "Like in Haryana, the UP government should also enact a law which makes the compensation rate equal all over the state with a provision that the company benefiting from the acquisition will pay a certain monthly amount to the farmer as his share for 15 years." Surja Devi from Jahangarh village supported the idea. "If you will give money in one instalment, the men here will spend it on drinking and gambling," she said.

Anil Kumar, pradhan of Virja Nagla village, hailing from jatav community (dalit), claimed that contrary to media reports there was no division on caste or communal lines on the issue of compensation. "The 14-year-old boy Prashant who died in police firing on August 14 was a brahmin, 12-year-old Mohit who fell to police bullet was a jatav and the third victim, 25-year-old Dharmendra, was a jat. We all have made sacrifices for the land which is our mother," he said.

However, politics was in play despite farmers' attempt to keep their agitation apolitical. Virendra Singh, former Aligarh MP, hailing from Congress party, spoke on how "deeply concerned were Soniaji and Rahulji over atrocities on UP farmers." Shemsher Singh Surgewal, a leader of Congress party's subsidiary Bhartiya Kisan Congress, came from Haryana to pledge his organisation's support to the agitation. Congress leader from Nagpur, Avenesh Kakar, exhorted farmers to take to streets and stall work in cities. "The government and the rich will react only when you will hit their city life," he said.

Present position

* 11 villages affected by Yamuna Expressway in Aligarh. 171 hectares of land was acquired for the under-construction expressway. The compensation was between Rs 3.36 and Rs 4.16 lakh per bigha.

* Now, 50 metres of land on both sides of the expressway is being taken to construct the support base. The total land being acquired for this purpose comes is around 171 hectares.

* Farmers who have given their land on which construction is underway are the worst hit as they have already taken the money and now cannot get their land back even if they repay.

* 512 hectares of land is being acquired for construction of township. This is affecting six villages. Further, 48 hectares of land will be required for the construction of `inter-change lane'.

* As per farmers' estimate, they will get Rs 22 lakh as compensation for five bigha land at the current rate, whereas after construction of township, the company will reap a profit of Rs 6.20 crore.

* Crops sown in Aligarh include kharif, paddy, sugarcane, potato, wheat, pulses, bajra among others. West UP farmers are comparatively better off in comparison to those in east UP.

Aligarh MP Raj Kumari is wife of minister in BSP government Jaiveer Singh. Of total five assembly constituencies in Aligarh, two are with BSP, two with RLD and one Independent

Minister Jaiveer Singh is also MLA from Barauli in Aligarh. Former chief minister Kalyan Singh's daughter-in-law Premvati is MLA from another Aligarh assembly constituency -- Atrauli.

Kalyan visits Tappal:

Former chief minister Kalyan Singh has demanded a CBI inquiry into the police firing on the agitating farmers in Tappal on August 14. Addressing farmers at the demonstration site in Tappal on Wednesday, he said the CBI should also probe under which circumstances the state government decided to construct the Yamuna Expressway and the Ganga Expressway. "The two projects are environment hazards and have been allotted to same group of business house," he claimed. Singh, who arrived in a cavalcade of over a dozen SUVs, said the expressway is only for the `badi gadi wale dhani' (rich who travel on expensive four-wheelers) and not for `kisan ki bail gadi' (farmers' bullock-cart). The township is also for the rich. He demanded amendment in the Land Acquisition Act. He also demanded a compensation of Rs 20 lakh who died in the police firing, Rs 10 lakh for seriously injured and Rs 5 lakh for injured. He cautioned farmers to remain alert. "Those in power have taken heavy commission from the company constructing the expressway, hence the former will try every trick to cheat the farmers," he said.

No action against SO; farmers irked:

The man in the centre of the controversy, station officer Tappal, Udai Veer Malik, continues in office despite farmers blaming him for ordering fire at them on Saturday. While top officials of the district including the DM and SSP have been transferred, Malik continues on his post. Neither any senior official nor Malik was available for comment.

Read more: Aligarh farmers seek Tikait's help to intensify agitation - Lucknow - City - The Times of India

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