(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
May 29, 2011
AIDWA TEAM VISITS BHATTA-PARSAUL
Highhanded UP Govt Guilty for Calamity
ON May 19, a
the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) visited Bhatta and
villages in Greater NOIDA to enquire into the unfortunate turn of
took place on May 7, leading to the deaths of two farmers (one from
village) and two constables of the
The delegation comprised Sudha Sundararaman (AIDWA general secretary), T N Seema (Rajya Sabha MP), Ashalata (secretary), Albeena Shakil (CEC member), Asha Yadav (secretary, NOIDA) and Lata Singh (activist, NOIDA). Local leaders of the All India Kisan Sabha, namely, Uday Veer Singh Mallik, Kunwar Pal Singh Mallik, Chander Pal Singh and Gyanender Singh, accompanied the delegation. So did Gangeshwar, a CITU leader in NOIDA, and Bhati, a respected leader of the area.
The AIDWA team met several victims of violence and interacted with women of the area. The delegation also interacted briefly with the SDM of the adjoining district who was then visiting Bhatta village. The team’s findings are being given below.
The farmers of Bhatta and Parsaul have been agitating for long, demanding better compensation for their land. The agitators include those whose lands have been acquired as well as those whose lands are set to be acquired in the coming days. While some farmers have received part or full payment for their land, the AIDWA team learnt that not one farmer was satisfied with the compensation. Most of them wanted an arrangement wherein they could have a stake in the escalating land value. The farmers were demanding a transparent declaration of land use by the government since many felt betrayed that the land that was ostensibly acquired for industrial purposes, was now in the hands of real estate developers.
While the several months old agitation by farmers was largely peaceful, there was no serious effort by the administration to resolve their demands. The exact sequence of events that led to the firing could not be ascertained, but it is clear that the adamant approach of the government played a big role in the unfortunate turn of events. The firing started between 1.30 and 2 p m on May 7 at the dharna site near the Aata Chakki in Bhatta and continued till nearly 7 p m. Police brutality and highhandedness through forced entry into homes continued for the next three days. It is clear that rather than establishing the rule of law, the police and the administration took law into their own hands.
The AIDWA delegation met Shmt Omwati, widow of Shri Rajpal, from Bhatta village, who was killed on May 7. He is survived by three school going sons and a married daughter. The family is living in debt incurred during the daughter’s marriage. Smt Omwati complained that the administration did not allow the family to bring back her husband’s body to the village and her son was compelled to perform the last rites away from his family and home. Shri Rajbeer from Parsaul village was also killed in police firing on the day but the AIDWA team could not reach his family.
The team met the mother of Daljeet who was injured and hospitalised. Narender Singh, a senior citizen, was shot in his right leg on May 7 but was finding himself at a loss to return to the hospital for treatment in the absence of male members in the village to escort him. Tej Singh Sarma, 85 years old, was beaten with rifle butts, while his 15 years old grandson was arrested and beaten up in police custody for three days. Brick worker Prempal, son of Lakkhi Chandan, suffered a broken shoulder but no medical aid had reached him. School teacher Navratan Sharma’s leg was fractured. The son and daughter-in-law of Smt Nirmala were hospitalised with bullet injuries. Kapil, grandson of 70 years old Kela Devi, was in hospital with bullet injuries. Birender Singh, son of Ikram Singh, suffered multiple fractures in his hands and legs. Both the legs and one hand of schoolteacher Bijender were broken. Suresh, a medical shop owner, suffered from broken fingers and rib. Praveen was injured on his head and suffered a cut wound in his stomach.
The team came to know that a total of 28 people have been jailed from the two villages --- 23 from Bhatta and another 5 from Parsal. The team found the women members of their families to be in extreme distress.
The police chased the agitating farmers into the villages and forced their entry into homes in Bhatta on the 7th and in Parsaul for the next three days. Victims reported that the police stormed the village in thousands (one eye witness put the number at 5,000), broke doors open, jumped walls, and resorted to a full scale attack on the villagers. We found evidence of large scale looting of and damage to property. Most male household members have left their homes, leaving behind women. Only a handful had returned. The male household members of Jameela, a senior citizen, had not returned home. The police looted the foodgrain in her house. She was asking for food since she was too afraid to go out to work. All villagers, irrespective of whether they were landowners or not, were targeted during these raids. We found most women to be still terrorised. While many men were injured at the dharna site, a large number was also injured during these raids. Many women also hid outside the village in farms for a day or two.
The police inevitably damaged all modes of travel like motorcycles and cars during these raids. Even tractors and wooden carts were not spared. The AIDWA team found broken doors and broken household goods in many homes. The shop of Vinod Sharma was looted and his car damaged. Money was snatched from Smt Kanta Devi. Ranbeera and her mentally challenged son were beaten and the car and motorcycle in their home damaged. The household furniture and small shop of 55 years old widow Smt Munni was damaged. The hay stacks in Mukut Lal’s house were set on fire. The car, tractor and water pump of Smt Durga Sharma was damaged; 20 sacks of wheat were also destroyed. 2 motorcycles, 1 TV, 1 fridge, 1 cooler, 1 inverter, 1 Dish, and furniture were damaged in Smt Dayawati’s house. The motorcycle in the house of Smt Anita Choudhary was damaged; 2 motorcycles in the house of Shri Bhopal were damaged and an attempt was made to set them on fire. The motorcycle in the house of a deceased farmer, late Shri Rajpal, was damaged.
No women police were part of the village raids. It is clear that the police went on a rampage in the villages. Inevitably the police encountered women in homes and, without exception, all women complained about filthy abuses and physical assault. Among them, 18 years old Neha Sharma’s hand was fractured. Her mother, Smt Kanti Devi, was also hospitalized till yesterday with injuries. Smt Munni, a widowed woman, was beaten in her private parts. We found several women with minor cuts and bruises on their bodies. Many were traumatized by the events, mentally and physically. The AIDWA team strongly condemned this barbaric assault perpetrated by the UP police in the villages of Bhatta and Parsaul. The kind of violence unleashed against women is abhorrent and must be dealt with firmly. However, no incident of rape was reported by the families the AIDWA team met.
This entire sordid episode reveals that the UP government has precipitated matters in Bhatta and Parsaul villages because of its adamant and highhanded approach towards land acquisition. There was clear evidence of police brutality and repression in the two villages. Women have faced the brunt of police brutality and are extremely terrorised. They are in distress about male household members who are injured, jailed or have left the villages fearing police attacks. The AIDWA team found them to be extremely intimidated about heavy police presence in the area and found one instance where, just a day before the team’s visit, the police knocked at a door at midnight.
The AIDWA has demanded that efforts must be made to restore normalcy in the villages without delay. Medical and other facilities must be provided to the injured. Police presence must be phased off. The threats and intimidation by the police and administration must stop so that people can return to their houses. Food must be provided to the needy villagers. Also, adequate compensation must be paid to the villagers for loss of life and property. While the law must take its own course in the case of all killed, the effort to take revenge upon villagers must be discarded without delay. The investigation must keep in view the entire context of administrative highhandedness.
The UP government must shed its highhanded attitude on land acquisition and must announce a meaningful dialogue with the agitating farmers.
Another demand the AIDWA has put forward is that the union government must amend the Land Acquisition Act without delay, which is at the root of the entire unfortunate turn of events. Representatives of the Congress party must refrain from seeking to divert attention from this pertinent issue by making sensational claims and allegations. The Land Acquisition Act must be amended in a manner that makes consent of farmers essential for land acquisition and provides adequate monetary compensation, with a gender sensitive perspective. This must be combined with a stake for the land-losers in the appreciated future value of land along with other livelihood options.