As the Mayawati government went into damage-control mode in a bid to contain the fallout of the Aligarh incident — in which four persons were killed in police firing on August 14 (unofficial reports have claimed that six farmers were killed) — clashes were reported on Monday as agitated farmers resorted to ‘chakka jam' on the Aligarh-Mathura highway.
According to Inspector-General (Law and Order) A.P. Maheshwari, farmers blocked the Aligarh highway on Monday.
Eighteen additional companies of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) were deployed in the affected villages on Monday, and 17 senior officers, including PAC Director-General R.K. Tewari and Additional Director-General (Law and Order) Brij Lal, have been dispatched to Aligarh.
The incident was the fallout of the farmers' demand for more compensation for their land, which was acquired for building townships and hi-tech cities on both sides of the 185-km-long Yamuna Expressway project in the Aligarh and Mathura districts.
The expressway is being developed by a private developer, Messrs. Jai Prakash Associates. Demanding compensation on the lines of that paid to farmers in Noida, farmers from about half a dozen villages had been staging a dharna since July 28.
A judicial inquiry was ordered into the incident on Sunday and Ms. Mayawati announced a compensation of Rs.5 lakh for the next of the kin of the deceased.
The State government has claimed that the casualties were not on account of police firing but that the farmers were killed in firing by the public (other farmers).
The Opposition parties have slammed the U.P. government and Chief Minister Mayawati for the unprovoked police firing. The parties descended on Udaipur, Kansi and Zikarpur villages in Aligarh district on Monday.
Dharnas and demonstrations were staged at the district headquarters by the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).
The Congress has decided to hold demonstrations at all district headquarters in the State on Tuesday, followed by a farmers rally in Aligarh on August 23.
RLD president Ajit Singh, while addressing a kisan panchayat, demanded the unconditional release of the farmers arrested in police action and a compensation of Rs.25 lakh to the next of the kin of the deceased. He also asked the farmers to constitute action committees.
“The decision taken by the farmers will be binding on the RLD,” party spokesman and general secretary Anil Dubey said, denying that Mr. Singh was prevented from going to the villages.
Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Shivpal Singh Yadav visited Zikarpur village on Monday and addressed the farmers. Demanding a compensation of Rs.20 lakh, Mr. Yadav accused the Mayawati government of being anti-farmer.
Keywords: Aligarh firing