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Farmer’s agitation in Noida gets all the parties involved, but who knows the real issues ?




The ongoing agitation by farmers in the Western Part of Uttar Pradesh is now rocking the entire polity. A few days back, farmers were protesting for a higher amount of compensation / unwilling to surrender their land for commercial purposes in the Greater Noida area of Uttar Pradesh, and as a part of this agitation, there were clashes with the police. The farmers here have a number of retired armymen along with them, and are also fairly active, and as a part of preparing for confrontation, they were prepared with stones, as well as arms. The police swooped down on them, but met active resistance, and in the ensuring clashes, along with the farmers, there were injuries to people on the Government side, including the deaths of 2 policemen. Now, Uttar Pradesh has a police force that is complemented by the PAC (Provincial Armed Constabulary), which is pretty infamous. In an earlier such confrontation, the PAC was attacked, and it went on a rampage. In the current case, one does not really know the composition of the attacking Government forces that went on the rampage in the village of Bhatta Parsaul in the Greater Noida area, whether it was a mix of the PAC and other police forces, but the end result was that the village was cordoned off, the media was not allowed to enter for some time, and when the media came in again, they met a scene where the villagers alleged that the police force went on the rampage, attacking everybody, forcing the menfolk away (to the extent that for the last few days, there were no menfolk to be seen in the village). In addition, the leaders of the agitation farmers was being hunted, with a price being set on his head and information being sought for his arrest.

The farmers were asking for a higher level of compensation for their land that was acquired for the Yamuna Expressway project. Now, the word on the street is that Mayawati is interested in ensuring that the Yamuna Expressway project is completed, and because of this, land acquisition was not supposed to be a problem. However, for the past several years, there has been an ongoing debate about land acquisition, especially when the land of farmers is being acquired. Farmers see their land being acquired at a certain rate (when the price may be correct at that point of time); however, when the land becomes commercial, the state agencies sell the land for a much higher amount, and the farmer sees all this happening, and does not get any of this increased value, at the same time, trying to work out what to do with the amount of compensation (which can get spent without adding much value), and not having any stake in the new development. In the light of such problems in the past, the Government (the Congress Government) proposed a land acquisition and resettlement law that would be able to ensure that land is made available for important causes, while at the same time, ensuring that farmers get a deal that would satisfy, which may even include an annuity for many years, or a job in the new project, and so on. However, due to internal political pressures in the Government, the UPA Government has failed to come out with any policy or law, and hence every state does what it feels like.
Farmers issues are attractive politically, and so you have every party jumping into the issue, and the Congress raised the pitch by getting the heir apparent, Rahul Gandhi to jump into the situation by visiting the village, meeting the affected families, and making a drama about getting arrested and released – methinks it would have been much better if he could have pushed the Bill into a law and resolved the issues within his own Government. When he pushes the Maya Government for this, you can be sure that the other parties, including the BSP, will point the finger back at the Congress for failing to enact a law to cover the cases of land acquisition.




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