In an unfortunate turn of events, on Saturday, violent clashes broke out between police and farmers in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao after the latter gathered to protest against the state government acquiring land for a residential project in the district.
The incident occurred when scores of farmers pelted stones at the JCB machine which was deployed to carry out work for the high-tech trans-Ganga city, claiming that they have not received compensation for their land acquired by the Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Development Authority (UPSIDA) in 2012.
The land in question had been acquired in 2012 but worked on the project has been stalled for three years because of farmer protests. On Saturday, the protests turned violent when a team of UPSIDC attempted to begin work and farmers started pelting stones at the JCB machines.
In a video of the incident, cops in riot gear can be seen running after farmers; at one point in the clip a police officer appears to run at a woman farmer with his lathi raised.
The farmers claim the Yogi Adityanath administration forcibly took over their land for the Trans-Ganga City project, a proposed satellite township located around 40 kilometres from Lucknow, a few years ago. They argue that they have not even paid compensation for the land they lost.
Trans Ganga City is the planned satellite township in the Indian province of Uttar Pradesh in the Unnao district which comes under the Kanpur metropolitan area.
The area comprises the stretch from the limits of the Unnao Municipality to the Ganga river near Kanpur on NH 25 and Unnao-Shuklaganj Highway.
The Uttar Pradesh government has also proposed a Skill Development University near the proposed Hi-tech city.
The clashes with cops led to stone-pelting and construction machinery being set ablaze. The situation was brought under control later on Saturday. But on Sunday, a pipe at a power substation in the district was set on fire.
The cops responded by lathi-charging the farmers, who alleged that policemen also attacked women farmers. The police have claimed it was in self-defence and that they had been targeted by the farmers.
“We have been promised that we will get compensation. We have held several meetings with the police and officials but nothing has been done so far in the matter,” one of the protesting farmers was quoted by news agency ANI.
The government officials however refute the farmers’ claim and say the compensation was paid. A UPSIDA official has told ANI that compensation has, in fact, already been paid. “The situation is normal here,” he said.
The authorities have denounced the clashes and called it as the work of “miscreants” intent on disrupting work on the smart city.
“Some miscreants are doing this. We will go to villages and appeal to people to maintain peace. This is a deed of miscreants. We’ll maintain peace and the work (Trans-Ganga City project) will go on,” Devendra Pandey, the District Magistrate, told reporters.
The local administration and the police are now on alert and keeping an eye on the farmers residing in the area. Also, a heavy force is deployed at the protest site in order to prevent any untoward incident in the future.