Agra/Greater Noida: Farmers fury over land acquisition on Sunday spread to Agra as the death toll in clashes with security forces in violence-hit Greater Noida reached four. Meanwhile, police announced a Rs 50,000 reward for a peasant leader's arrest for "inciting" protests.

FARMERS AGITATION: IN PICS

Angry farmers in Agra's Etmadpur tehsil went on a rampage on Sunday, pelting stones at police and setting fire to vehicles and furniture of the Jaypee group's Yamuna Express Highway camp office.

Some people also tried to demonstrate in Mathura and Aligarh, but situation remained under control due to "timely police intervention", Director General of Police Karamveer
Singh said, while denying reports of fresh trouble in Tappal village in Aligarh.

"Four policemen were injured when farmers turned violent during a protest and indulged in arson" in Chaugaan village in Aitmadpur in Agra, Special Director General of Police (Law
and Order) Brij Lal said in Lucknow.

He said irate villagers torched several vehicles and tents at a construction site, demanding higher compensation for the land acquired for the Yamuna Expressway.

Agra DIG Aseem Arun told reporters the villagers allegedly opened fire, following which police used force to disperse the agitating mob. "There was firing from the villagers' side, but the police worked with restrain," he said, adding the situation is under control.

"Situation in Bhatta Parsaul is under control, heavy police force is camping in the area and some fresh arrests have been carried out," Brij Lal said.

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC have been clamped in the district. Area around the village has been sealed off by the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and the dharna site made out of bounds.

Toll rises to four

The Noida violence toll reached four after a protester, identified as Kalu, injured in Saturday's clashes between police and farmers in Gautam Buddha Nagar died, police said.

Two policemen - Manvir Singh and Manohar Singh - and a farmer Rajveer were killed on Saturday in clashes that erupted after police swooped on the village to rescue three state roadways employees held hostage by the farmers since Friday.

District Magistrate Deepak Aggarwal, who suffered a bullet wound in his leg, and Senior SP S N Singh, who was also injured along with scores of others, were recuperating. Their condition was stable, officials said.

Rs 50K reward for Tevatia

The UP police announced a reward of Rs 50,000 for arrest of Manvir Singh Tevatia, who has been leading the farmers' agitation at Bhatta Parsaul since January 17.

"Tevatia along with around 50 men has been instigating innocent farmers. 99 per cent farmers are satisfied with the new rehabilitation policy of the state," Brij Lal, who visited the village to take stock of situation last night, said.

Brij Lal said, "Raids are being carried out to arrest the trouble makers and efforts are on to trace and arrest Tewatia."

Police sources claimed that most protesters have gone into hiding.

Villagers alleged that personnel of PAC misbehaved and ransacked houses, a charge denied by the force.

Maya government criticised

The police action drew condemnation from BJP, RLD, JD-U, SP and Congress, whose leaders slammed the Mayawati government for the situation.

Condemning the police action on agitating farmers, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said there was need to talk to farmers and find out a solution. "We condemn the behaviour of the UP police and the government. The answer to farmers' demands is not police firing," he said.

RLD chief Ajit Singh, who was not allowed to visit the agitation spot and detained by the police, said the action by the district administration was regrettable.

"That is a very sad thing, very regrettable....we have full sympathy with those who died," he said.

"After what happened in Bhatta Parsaul village, we just wanted to go their and pacify people, listen to their problems, establish a dialogue with the farmers," he said.

Singh, who was released later, said the situation has cropped up as Chief Minister Mayawati was unwilling to listen to the problems faced by farmers.

"People are fed up as their land is being taken over in the name of expressway and given to builders and industrialists, he said, adding the compensation given to farmers was  inadequate.

Congress, SP, RLD demand probe


Meanwhile, RLD state chief Baba Hardev Singh demanded a probe by a sitting Supreme Court judge into the clashes.

"The Uttar Pradesh government has been acquiring the farmers' land without their consent and without fixing the rate of land," he said in Ghaziabad.

The Congress too demanded a high-level probe either by a sitting judge of the High Court and or the CBI into the incident.

"The entire incident should be probed either by a sitting judge of the HC or CBI. We also demand an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh each to kin of those killed," PCC chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi said.

SP state chief Akhilesh Yadav said a fact finding committee of the party including leader of opposition Shivpal Yadav and national general secretary Mohan Singh would visit the troubled areas.

JD-U chief Sharad Yadav accused the Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh of being "hand in glove with the land mafia" and said land acquisition should be stopped till Parliament  enacts a new law on it.

"Not just in Noida, there is a nationwide resentment among farmers against the land acquisition, which is carried out on the basis of an outdated act," he told reporters here.


(Agencies)