Riding pillion on a motorcycle, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi managed to give the Noida district administration the slip to reach Bhatta-Parsaul villages in Greater Noida around daybreak on Wednesday. Accompanied by AICC general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh Digvijay Singh, Mr. Gandhi's unannounced foray into the villages, which were affected by violence recently, not only caught the district administration off-guard, but also caused embarrassment in the government circles here.
Mr. Gandhi, Mr. Singh and other Congressmen staged an “indefinite” dharna in Parsaul village in support of the farmers' demands for better compensation for the land acquired for development and Yamuna Expressway projects. Mr. Gandhi has reportedly said that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati should talk with farmers.
Information about the Congress general secretary's presence in the village was received by the Home Department here after he had reached Bhatta-Parsaul. Home Secretary Deepak Kumar said the information was received at 8 a.m. According to reports, the Amethi MP arrived in Bhatta-Parsaul around 5.30 a.m. and it was only after he interacted with farmers that the police deployed in the villages came to know about his presence.
No ban orders
Curiously, ban orders, which were imposed in Greater Noida in the wake of the clash between farmers and police that claimed four lives and left many injured, were not enforced on Wednesday. “Prohibitory orders under Section 144 were lifted on Tuesday and were not reinforced,” the Home Secretary told reporters.
About the “security breach” by Mr. Gandhi, he said if there was any violation, the matter would be taken up by the security wing of the district administration and Special Protection Group. Mr. Kumar admitted that the Additional District Magistrate and the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Noida had met Mr. Gandhi, but failed to give any details regarding the outcome of the meeting.
Only recently, the State government had passed an administrative order making it difficult to obtain permission for staging dharna, demonstration and other forms of public protest. “The district administration would look into this aspect,” Mr. Kumar said.
Condemning the Mayawati government for the police action against farmers, Mr. Gandhi was reportedly categorical that land from farmers should not be acquired at prices below the existing market rates. The Congress had demanded a judicial probe into the incidents in Bhatta-Parsaul villages.
Mr. Gandhi's “successful” entry into Bhatta-Parsaul comes close on the heels of attempts by Rashtriya Lok Dal president Ajit Singh; the former Bharatiya Janata Party president, Rajnath Singh; and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Shivpal Singh Yadav at reaching the village. These leaders were detained by the police.
Stays at farmer's house
PTI reports from Greater Noida:
Mr. Gandhi on Wednesday night stayed at the house in Noida of Rampal, a farmer who is demanding enhanced compensation for land acquired by the government for a road project.
Mr. Digvijay Singh, Raj Babbar and Rita Bahuguna Joshi also stayed with him. Adding to the woes of security personnel, there was no electricity in the area.
Mr. Singh said Mr. Gandhi would not leave the place until the demands of the farmers were met and this was communicated to the State government.
When Sub Divisional Magistrate of the area met Mr. Gandhi to know what his demands were, he refused to talk to the SDM and said the government was aware of the farmers' demands, Mr. Singh said.