Rahul Gandhi visits agitating farmers, assures help


Aligarh (Uttar Pradesh) : Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi Saturday assured farmers demanding higher compensation for their land acquired for the Yamuna Expressway in Uttar Pradesh that he will raise their concerns at appropriate forums.

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Gandhi took the Mayawati government by surprise when he reached Tappal village in Aligarh district, the epicentre of peasants’ protest, Saturday evening.

Farmers have been protesting at Tappal for the last three weeks demanding a substantial enhancement in the compensation offered to them for their land acquired to build the 165-km Noida-Agra Yamuna Expressway.

Gandhi first went to the spot at Tappal, where hundreds of farmers from Aligarh and neighbouring districts, have been on a round-the-clock sit-in.

Assuring demonstrators of the Congress’ full support, Gandhi said that he was with them and would be ready to assist them in their struggle for justice.

He visited different villages to offer condolence to the families of each of the two victims, including a 12-year-old boy, who were killed in police firing Aug 14.

“I would do my best to raise your concerns and issues at the appropriate forum,” Gandhi told farmers in Jikarpur village.

Gandhi, undaunted by the heavy downpour in the region as well as his 110-km drive from New Delhi, went from village to village and was greeted warmly by farmers.

Farmers in Taharpur alleged that the Mayawati government was helping builders who were keen to acquire the land. They said that some officers of the state government had also purchased lands in the hope of reaping profits later.

Some farmers said that they did not want to part with land irrespective of compensation as it was their only means of livelihood.

The expressway, which is expected to reduce the driving time between New Delhi and Agra to just about 90 minutes, will pass through Gautam Buddha Nagar (Noida), Aligarh, Mahamaya Nagar (Hathras) and Mathura districts, and involves acquisition of land in 115 villages.

A total of 2,500 hectares is to be acquired for the development of the expressway – 500 hectares each in Noida, Aligarh and Agra and 1,000 hectares in Gautam Buddha Nagar.

The compensation amount was increased from Rs.449 per square metre to Rs.570 per square metre. But farmers refused to budge from the demand for compensation at the rate of Rs.880 per square metre that was paid in Greater Noida.

Congress sources said that Gandhi decided to pay a surprise visit to the area to avoid media glare and have freewheeling interaction with the farmers and villagers.