Tension prevailed on Monday in parts of western Uttar Pradesh hit by farmers' unrest over land acquisition even as a heavy police deployment was made in the affected areas and political leaders were detained preventing them from reaching the troubled spots.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Rajnath Singh and Samajwadi Party leaders Shivpal Singh Yadav and Mohan Singh were detained by police along with their supporters when they tried to proceed towards Greater Noida where prohibitory orders have been clamped following Saturday's violence.
Singh appealed to the farmers to fight for their cause in a non-violent and democratic way. Accusing the Mayawati-led Uttar Pradesh government of being anti-farmer, he told reporters that the state should not forcefully acquire farmers' land.
He condemned the fierce clashes that broke out between security personnel and agitating farmers on Saturday, which led to the death of two policemen and an equal number of farmers. He said once the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill is passed by Parliament, farmers will get the right to sell their land directly to private developers.
Singh, who was detained while proceeding towards Bhatta Parsaul village in Greater Noida this morning where prohibitory orders under section 144 of IPC have been clamped following incidents of violence, was released after an hour.
Terming the Mayawati government as being "anti-farmer", the SP leaders alleged that it was buying land at cheaper rates from farmers and selling them to private developers at high premiums. They demanded a judicial inquiry into the firing incident in Bhatta village in Greater Noida where two policemen and two farmers have died. "We have also asked for setting up of a two-member committee of retired judges to decide the land compensation issue," they said.
"Situation is completely normal and so far 22 people have been arrested in connection with Saturday's violence," Special Director General of Police (law and order) Brij Lal, who is camping in Greater Noida, said.
About 5000 personnel belonging to PAC, Rapid Action Force and police have been deployed in the Greater Noida villages, police said. Searches were being carried out to arrest farmer leader Manveer Singh Tewatia and his aides Gaje Singh, Premveer, Neeraj Mallik, Kiranpal and Manoj, police said.
Tewatia, who has more than 20 cases against him, has been leading the farmers' agitation at Bhatta-Parsaul since January 17. The state government has announced a reward of Rs.50000 for the arrest of Tewatia. Rewards of Rs.15000 each have also been announced for the arrest of three other accomplices of Tewatia which included Mallik.
Police teams have been sent to Tewatia's home village in Bulandshahr and other areas. In Aitmadpur in Agra where farmers and police clashed on Sunday, four FIRs have been lodged in connection with the violence and arson by villagers. In Aligarh, another troubled spot, an FIR has been lodged against 40 people, of which 15 had been named in connection with the violence in Khangoli village on Aligarh-Mathura border.
Around a dozen more farmers were also detained on Monday morning in connection with the violence in Greater Noida, Additional District Magistrate OP Arya said.
Bhatta and Parsaul villages in Greater Noida have been converted into fortresses with additional deployment of Provisional Armed Constabulary. A 2-km radius area has been sealed, the police said. Arya said a criminal-farmer nexus at Bhatta village was being investigated.
On the antecedents of Tewatia, Arya said, "The reward on arrest of Tewatia speaks for itself. Farmers do not carry weapons and resort to violence and kidnapping of officials. Tewatia misled the innocent farmers". He said a search was on for a police carbine, an SLR gun and a rifle that had gone missing during the violence.
In view of the agitation, the state government is considering setting up a PAC base at Noida and Greater Noida for which three sites were being looked at, district administration sources said.
Meanwhile, Tewatia's wife Nutan has alleged that family members were being "harassed" by the police. She said her husband was not a criminal and had been fighting for the farmers' cause since the last four months. She said she had met her husband on January 10 and since then he had left the village and was sitting at Bhatta fighting for farmers' cause.
Deputy Inspector General of Police, Agra, Aseem Arun said, "The situation is totally normal and four FIRs -- three by construction companies and one by police -- have been lodged against the trouble makers". He said so far 24 people have been identified and efforts were being made to arrest them. Those identified have been named in the police FIR.
To avert further violence, heavy police force has been deployed in and around Aitmadpur area. "As of now 400 civil police personnel, two companies of PAC and one company of Rapid Action Force is camping in the area," Arun said.
After Sunday's arson, construction activity has again started on the site.
Four policemen and some villagers were injured in clashes between the police and villagers near in Aitmadpur tehsil. The irate villagers indulged in arson and brick batting, damaged vehicles and allegedly opened fire after which police used force to disperse the mob.
Veer Singh, senior superintendent of police, Aligarh, Satyendra said, an FIR has been lodged against 40 of which 15 have been named. The SSP said the situation was normal in Tappal village and work on Yamuna Expressway is underway.