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UP cops open fire at protesting farmers; 2 killed

August 14, 2010 23:42 IST

Uttar Pradesh cops opened fire in Tappal village of Aligarh district on Saturday night on farmers protesting against inadequate compensation given to them for acquisition of their land for building the much talked about 165-km long Yamuna Expressway between Noida and Agra.

Two persons, including a policeman, were killed and a dozen injured in the clashes between the police and protestors following the arrest of a local farmers' leader Ram Babu Katheria, who was spearheading a three-day demonstration to press their demand for a higher compensation.

While the dead policeman was identified as Brijendra Singh, a platoon commander in the Provincial Armed Constabulary, the farmer who fell to the police bullets was identified as Prashant.

According to Additional Director General of Police Brij Lal, firing was opened on Saturday night after the protestors took to stone pelting, violence and arson, burning down a police outpost in the Tappal village, as well as a camp office of the Jaypee Industries, the official contractor engaged to build the eight lane expressway.

Violence erupting from Aligarh soon spread to adjacent Mathura district, where farmers also fought pitched battles with the police and torched several vehicles.

Police blamed it all on Katheria who was allegedly insisting on a compensation at the rate given to farmers in Greater Noida. He allegedly instigated the protestors to take to violence when local officials reached the village to formally take over the land already acquired by the state government for the purpose of building the expressway.

According to Aligarh District Magistrate K R Mohan Rao, police was compelled to retaliate only after firing was started by some of the protestors.

Katheria's supporters, however, blamed it on Aligarh Senior Superintendent of Police Vijay Prakash, who reportedly has a bad reputation for rash and brazen handling of situations in other districts over the past.

The 165-km long expressway project, which is expected to reduce the driving time between New Delhi and Agra by one hour, will pass through the districts of Gautam Buddha Nagar, Aligarh, Mahamaya Nagar (Hathras) and Mathura, is involved in acquisition of land in as many as 115 villages of the state.

A total of 2,500 hectare is to be acquired for the development of the expressway; 500 hectares each in Noida, Aligarh and Agra and 1,000 hectares in Gautam Buddha Nagar districts.

Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow