Top Uttar Pradesh bureaucrat Shashank Shekhar Singh, who was sent by Chief Minister Mayawati to Aligarh, has managed to defuse the crisis that erupted there after three agitating farmers were killed in firing by policemen on August 15. The farmers were protesting against the inadequate compensation for agricultural land acquired to build the high-speed Yamuna Expressway between Noida and Agra.
Singh, the state cabinet secretary, struck a deal with the protestors at 1.30 am on Tuesday, by conceding to their demand for a higher compensation and ordering the immediate release of their leader Ram Babu Katheria, who had been kept under detention for the past 48 hours.
Singh rushed to Aligarh along with Additional Director General of Police (law and order) Brij Lal late on Monday evening.
Singh and Lal flew to Aligarh by a special aircraft and took over the negotiations from ministers Chaudhary Laxmi Narain and Thakur Jaiveer Singh, who were holding talks with the angry farmers.
After prolonged discussions, the deal was finally struck late after midnight. Katheria formally participated in the discussions and agreed to accept a hike of nearly Rs 120 per sq metre in the compensation rate offered to the farmers.
Senior Superintendent of Police (Aligarh) Satender Veer Singh said, "The package offered by the state government includes the provision of raising the compensation price offered to the farmers to Rs 570 per square metre (Rs 23 lakh per acre)".
Singh also conveyed the chief minister's decision to enhance the ex gratia payment of Rs. 5 lakh to the families of those killed in the firing to Rs 10 lakh. The injured victims will receive a compensation of Rs 2 lakh.
Singh also promised the farmers that their land will not be acquired without a written consent and if they wanted to withdraw the consent, they could do so.
Earlier, following an uproar over the issue in Parliament, Mayawati had given marching orders to all senior officials in Aligarh, holding them responsible for precipitating the crisis. The divisional commissioner, district magistrate, deputy inspector general of police and the senior superintendent of police of the district were transferred.
The 165-km long expressway, which is expected to cut down the driving time between New Delhi and Agra to just 90 minutes, will pass through the districts of Gautam Buddha Nagar, Aligarh, Mahamaya Nagar (Hathras) and Mathura. The ambitious project will involve land acquisition in nearly 115 villages.