Lucknow/Agra/Greater Noida, May 8 (IANS) Farmers' fury over land takeover spread Sunday to Agra and Aligarh districts in Uttar Pradesh as the number of dead in clashes with security forces in Greater Noida rose to four, officials said.
Angry farmers in Agra's Etmadpur tehsil went on a rampage Sunday, pelting stones at police and setting fire to vehicles and furniture of the Jaypee group's Yamuna Express Highway camp office.
Violence was reported from two spots near Chalesar and Etmadpur. Police said the situation had been brought under control. There were clashes reported in Aligarh district also.
Deputy Inspector General of Police Aseem Arun said two policemen were injured and two police vehicles damaged.
The latest incidents were triggered by news of farmer-police clashes in Noida, bordering Delhi, and anger at Jaypee's officials who villagers said had demolished a temple in Garhi Rami two days ago.
Farmers want increased financial compensation for land they say has been forcibly taken away from them to build the Expressway.
The Yamuna Expressway, when it is built, is set to cut travelling time from Greater Noida to the Taj Mahal town of Agra to just about 90 minutes.
Meanwhile, the death toll in farmer protests in Bhatta Parsaol in Greater Noida Saturday has risen to four. They are two farmers and two policemen.
The fourth victim was identified as a farmer who died of bullet injuries in Kailash Hospital in Greater Noida.
The deceased policemen were identified as Manohar Singh and Manveer Singh. The other dead farmer was Hari Om.
Heavy police deployment in Bhatta Parsaul kept protestors away Sunday.
The Uttar Pradesh government has transferred Surya Pratap Singh as the Senior Superintendent of Police of Noida, replacing him with Rajiv Sabrawal, police sources said.
A reward of Rs.50,000 was announced on information about farmer leader Manvir Singh Teotia who is being blamed for Saturday's clashes.
Police officers said that Teotia hailed from Bulandshahr district and did not own any farmland in the village and had not been victimized in any manner.
But he registered his presence at every farmer's protest in Tappal, Mathura and now Bhatta Parsaul.
A police officer accused Teotia of derailing all attempts by the district administration to settle what he described as the peace accord between the farmers and the government.
The All India Kisan Sabha has condemned "the police brutalities in Bhatta Parsaul village against the farmers protesting against unjust land acquisition".
"The farmers ... have been seeking adequate compensation for the land acquired, rehabilitation and resettlement. However, the state government has been indifferent to their demands and resorting to selling land acquired on the pretext of industrialisation to private builders for real estate purposes," it said.
Farmer's leader C.P. Singh of of Zikarpur village in Aligarh said: "We are simply demanding a rightful compensation for our land being acquired to build the Yamuna Expressway."
"While farmers were paid at the rate of Rs.6,000 per square metre in Noida and Greater Noida, we were being offered a compensation of Rs.400-Rs.600 per square metre in Aligarh. This is grossly unfair," Singh told IANS over the phone.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, however, dismissed the agitation as "politically motivated".
State Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh told reporters in Lucknow: "The chief minister has reasons to blame political parties for instigating the farmers to create trouble."
"There was no question of inadequate compensation as the price for acquisition of land was fixed through a mutually agreed settlement between the farmer and the party involved."
On Saturday, fifteen people were critically injured in the clashes between farmers and security forces. The district magistrate of Gautam Budh Nagar, Deepak Agrawal, was shot at.
The otherwise peaceful protests by farmers took a violent turn when the police tried to rescue three Uttar Pradesh Roadways employees from farmers who had taken them hostage. The hostages escaped.
But this happened only after firing between the outnumbered security forces and farmers, who aimed their guns from the rooftops.
All major opposition parties, including the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party flayed the Mayawati government for "using brute force" against the farmers.