Congress backs Uttar Pradesh shutdown called by farmers


New Delhi : The Congress has decided to support the Aug 25 statewide shutdown called by farmers in Uttar Pradesh agitating for enhanced compensation for their land acquired for the Yamuna Expressway.

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The party has, however, not spelt out its stance on the farmers’ proposed march to parliament Aug 26.

“We will support the shutdown on Aug 25. Our appeal is that it should be peaceful and there should not be any violence,” Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh told IANS.

He said the Mayawati government in the state had not paid heed to the demands of farmers for a long time, forcing them to launch an agitation.

Digvijay Singh met Congress president Sonia Gandhi Monday to discuss the party’s stance in the wake of the shutdown call Aug 25 and the march to parliament, proposed by the Rashtriya Lok Dal and supported by some other parties, Aug 26.

He did not spell out the party’s stance on the Aug 26 march, which has also been supported by Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Bahujan Samaj Party.

Asked about the BSP’s support to the Aug 26 march in the capital, Singh said that Mayawati should not indulge in mere plain talk about demands of agitating farmers.

“Rather than talking, she should take a decision on the demands of farmers for enhanced compensation,” he said.

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi paid a surprise visit Saturday to Tappal village in Aligarh district, the epicentre of peasants’ recent protests, and assured the farmers that he would raise their concerns at appropriate fora.

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

Two farmers and a police constable were killed when police opened fire on protesting farmers in the area Aug 14.

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

The compensation amount was increased from Rs.449 per square metre to Rs.570 per square metre by the state government after the farmers launched their protest.

But the farmers refused to withdraw their agitation and demanded compensation at the rate of Rs.880 per square metre that was paid in Greater Noida.