UP: Fearing Loss of Land in Azamgarh Airport Expansion, Villager Died of Heart Attack
Villagers while mourning
Lucknow: Fearing losing ancestral land and home, a villager Subhash Upadhyay (51) of Jamua Hariram in Azamgarh district, allegedly died of a heart attack at his residence on Sunday night.
The deceased owned about five bighas of land, which was supposed to be acquired for the Manduri Airstrip. Since both his land and house were surveyed by the district administration for the proposed airstrip, he was depressed.
"Subhash Upadhyay used to go daily to participate in the sit-in protest, which has been going on for the last 62 days in Khiriya Ka Bagh. He was agonised that he would be displaced from the land where they had been living for generations and made refugees without a place of their own. Ever since the land survey was conducted by the district administration, he always used to wake up in the middle of the night and cry, for which the people of the entire village would gather. The family had consulted the doctor where he was undergoing treatment for depression," Sandeep Upadhyay, a native of Jamua Hariram and neighbour of the deceased, told NewsClick.
Sandeep Upadhyay, who owns 15 bighas of land which falls under the proposed airstrip, is also afraid that he would lose his land and home.
"On December 11, suddenly, he started crying and told his son Ashish that we would be separated from everyone in the village if the government acquired their land forcefully. Anxiety that his village would be completely wiped out from the map was haunting him. He asked how cruelly this government is forcing us from each other in the name of development. His health started deteriorating, and he was taken to Azamgarh, where the doctor referred him to Varanasi; he died on the way," he further said.
Scores of farmers had gathered to pay their respects to the deceased farmer, referring to him as a martyr who had died for the cause of the 'Makan Bachao Khet Bachao’ movement.
The deceased Upadhyay was an active participant in the sit-in protest, which has been going on since October 13 under the banner of 'Makan Bachao Khet Bachao Sanyukta Morcha', which was formed to lead the protest.
"He was an active participant and organised the protest a few times. He used to say he got self-strength by joining strike with fellow villagers," Rajeev Yadav, leading the protest, told NewsClick.
This is the 10th death in two months, alleged Yadav.
Ever since the announcement on the site for Azamgarh airport was made by the Union government, the people of the eight villages where large-scale land acquisition is expected to be carried out have been protesting against the project. They have been organising themselves through regular meetings and black flag agitations.
Last week, a group of farmers associated with Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) and social activists carried out the Kisan Sangharsh Yatra from Unnao to Azamgarh via Lucknow after completing 50 days of a sit-in protest against the project.
Among them, the people fear that eight villages, including Hasanpur, Kadipur Harikesh, Jamua Hariram, Jamua Jolha, Gadanpur Chindan Patti, Manduri Jigina Karampur and Jehra Pipri, would be completely wiped out with their agricultural lands levelled up and houses demolished. The people fear they will be displaced from the land where they have been living for generations, and all their memories will be wiped out.
There is a proposal to expand the Azamgarh airstrip to an international airport under the UDAN scheme. The project will displace about ten thousand people from around 600 acres of land, and thousands of houses will also be affected.
"Apart from fertile land, there are around 2,000 houses alone in Jamua Hariram, which will be destroyed if the government does not agree to stop the project. There are seven more villages with the same dense population which are being affected," Ram Nayan Yadav, president of Makan Bachao Khet Bachao Sanyukta Morcha, told NewsClick.
The residents of these villages said they did not want to move out of their ancestral land and homes, no matter how much money or alternative land the government would provide as compensation.
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