New Delhi: A protest in Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh on Sunday turned ugly after protesting farmers were allegedly beaten up brutally by the police. The farmers were demanding adequate compensation for their land acquired by the Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Development Authority (UPSIDA) for the upcoming township named, Trans Ganga City project.
Several farmers were reportedly injured and have been referred to a government hospital in Kanpur, according to reports.
According to the media reports, officils said the incident took place on November 17 around 11 a.m outside the godown of UPSIDA near Kanpur.
Following the clash, plastic pipes and vehicles outside a state infrastructure agency godown were set ablaze during the clash between farmers and police, reports said.
The District Magistrate (DM) of Unnao told media persons that no farmer had taken responsibility for the incident, suggesting that the arson did not involve the protesting farmers but a few fringe elements.
Meanwhile, the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) slammed the State government for lathi-charging the farmers. In a statement, BKU condemned the police and also claimed that the farmers did not indulge in violence and were only demanding adequate compensation for their land, but were beaten “mercilessly” by the police.
Speaking to Newsclick, Dharmendra Malik, national spokesperson of BKU said, "The Unnao incident is a failure of both government and administration. There was a work in progress for Trans Ganga City acquisition and people there were struggling over the past 3-4 years for adequate compensation. The farmers were given compensation three times at a very low rate, which means something is fishy. Ironically, three people in the same house were not given the same compensation. They have been compensated in three different categories. Twelve years back, a notification was conducted for the land and that time rate for the land was different. This time it is higher than before. While the land was taken at the same time, the amount being given is not the same, which is not justified at any cost. There must be equality in terms of compensation."
Malik added that several farmers had not received compensation so far, and while the UPSIDA was willing to giving, there was some confusion regarding bank accounts, resulting in payment delay.
Condemning the lathi-charge, Malik said, "A video is doing the rounds on social media which shows a farmer lying semi-conscious after being beaten, is still being beaten up by the police. There must be some shame. An FIR has been filed against farmers only. We will soon hit the road against the brutality done by the police."
The farmer union warned the UP government that if action was not taken against the police for lathi-charging farmers, they would organise a massive movement across the state.
The Trans Ganga City project is a residential project that the UPSIDA is developing near Kanpur. The farmers have been continuously protesting over the past few years due to non-fulfilment of the conditions of the acquisition during the tenure of then Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav in 2003. The farmers alleged= that their land was acquired without an agreement in 2005 and they were not being compensated in return.
Shailendra Pratap Singh, spokesperson of BKU in Unnao, told Newsclick, "The District Magistrate is coming for a talk with farmers regarding this. Half of the farmers are satisfied with the compensation given by the government, but the rest are not happy. The protest can turn into a massive movement if the farmers are not paid fairly.”
A farmer named Meva Lal Nishad, whose land was acquired by the government, told Newsclick, "I got my compensation, but there is more due to my family. There is some land dispute, so they did not receive compensation."
Devika, another farmer told Newsclick, "We have been protesting and demanding adequate compensation over the past three years. Our land has been forcefully acquired by UPSIDA. We want compensation. UPSIDA can only start work after releasing our due amount,” adding that “No discussions were held during the acquisition."
Meanwhile political leaders including former chief ministers Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati and Congress general-secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra defended protesting farmers and demanded justice for them.
In a tweet, BSP leader Mayawati said: "The state government … should be sitting across with the landowners rather than indulging in police lathi-charge and exploitation, which is highly condemnable. The government should take this very seriously".