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Four dead, many injured in farmer protest in Noida

Violence erupts as villagers in Greater Noida protest the low compensation being offered to them for their land

What started as a protest by farmers against their lands being acquired by the Uttar Pradesh government in Greater Noida took an ugly turn on May 7 when clashes between farmers and the police, at Bhatta Parsaul, ended in the death of four people -- two policemen and two farmers. A day later, the protests spread to Agra and Aligarh, and work on the Yamuna expressway came to a standstill. Around 100 villagers set fire to a power generator and other equipment in Agra, and the police arrested 32 agitators. Prohibitory orders have been issued following the violence and several companies of the Provisional Armed Constabulary, Rapid Action Force and police have been deployed in villages in Greater Noida.

The farmers are demanding higher compensation for land acquired from them by the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) for various projects. They accuse the Uttar Pradesh government of buying land cheaply from them, and selling it at a higher price to private developers. 

The land acquisition process began in March 2009. Almost two years later, on January 17, 2011, local farmer Manveer Tevatia started up an agitation. Police officials claim 99% of farmers are satisfied with the compensation given to them, but that some farmers have been incited by Tevatia to join the agitation. Around 20 cases have been filed against Tevatia; the state government has announced a reward of Rs 50,000 for his arrest. Villagers say 150 people from the villages have been picked up by the police. Many of those injured in the clashes with police remain in their homes, too afraid to go to hospital.

Protests like these have become common across the country in the absence of a just land acquisition policy. Corruption and bias in the land acquisition process, disregard for environmental laws and people’s rights have led to unrest in many agricultural communities. There are also warnings that taking over large areas of agricultural land for industrial purposes threatens India’s food security. 

Source: The Indian Express, May 9, 2011
             Hindustan Times, May 9, 2011

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