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India: AIDWA report on the Bhatta-Parsaul Firing

by All India Progressive Women’s Association, 21 May 2011

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21 May 2011

AIDWA Press Release

There is little clarity on the ground situation at the twin Greater Noida villages of Bhatta and Parsaul, where farmers have been protesting the land acquisition along the Yamuna Expressway for over two weeks now. A visit by Rahul Gandhi, which involved some engaging theatrics, has only added to the misinformation.

An AIDWA (All India Democratic Women’s Association delegation visited Bhatta-Parsaul villages in Greater Noida on May 19, to study the the unfortunate turn of events on May 7 that led to the deaths of two farmers (one from each village) and 2 constables of the PAC.

They found that there is clear evidence of Police brutality and repression in the two villages and that the entire episode reveals that the UP government has precipitated matters in due to its adamant and highhanded approach towards land acquisition.

Given below are findings of the AIDWA team, comprising Sudha Sundararaman (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 accompanied the delegation, namely, Uday Veer Singh Mallik, Kunwar Pal Singh Mallik, Chander Pal Singh and Gyanender Singh, as well as CITU leader of Noida Gangeshwar and Com. Bhati- a respected leader of that area.

PRESS RELEASE

We met several victims of violence and interacted with the women of the area. The delegation also interacted briefly with the SDM of the adjoining district who was visiting Bhatta village. Our findings are as follows:

1. Agitation against inadequate compensation: The farmers of Bhatta-Parsaul have been on a prolonged agitation demanding better compensation for their land. The agitators include both 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, we met no one who was satisfied with the compensation. Most 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.

2. Firing on 7th May: While the months old agitation by farmers was largely peaceful, there was no serious effort to resolve their demands by the administration. 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 to 2 pm on 7th May at the Dharna site near the Aata Chakki in Bhatta and continued till nearly 7 pm. Police brutality and highhandedness through forced entry into homes continued for the next 3 days. It is clear that rather than establishing the rule of law, the Police and the administration took law into their own hands.

3. Plight of families of killed farmers: We met Shmt. Omwati, widow of Shri Rajpal, from Bhatta village, who was killed on the 7th. He is survived by three school going sons and a married daughter. The family is living in debt incurred during the daughter’s marriage. Shmt. Omwati complained that the administration did not allow the family to bring back his 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 on the same day in Police firing but we could not reach his family.

4. Villagers shot or injured: We met Shmt. Raghubir Udayveer whose son Daljeet is injured and hospitalized. Senior citizen Narender Singh was shot in his right leg on the 7th 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. 85 years old Tej Singh Sarma was beaten with rifle butts, his 15 year old grandson was arrested and beaten up in police custody for 3 days. School teacher Navratan Sharma’s leg was fractured. Brick worker Prempal, son of Lakkhi Chandan suffered a broken shoulder but no medical aid has reached him. School teacher Navratan Sharma’s leg was fractured. The son and daughter-in-law of Shmt. Nirmala were hospitalized with bullet injuries. 70 years old Kela Devi’s grandson Kapil was in hospital with bullet injuries. Bhirender 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.

5. Jailed: To our knowledge a total of 28 people have been jailed from the two villages, 23 from Bhatta and another 5 from Parsal. We found women members of their families to be in extreme distress.

6. Terrorized Villagers: The Police chased agitating farmers into the villages and forced their entry into homes in Bhatta on the 7thand in Parsaul for the next three days. Victims reported that police stormed the village in thousands, ( one eye witness put the number at 5000) broke open doors, jumped walls, and resorted to a full scale attack on the villagers. We found evidence of large scale looting and damage to property. Most male household members have left their homes, leaving behind women. Only a handful have 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 terrorized. 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.

7. Damage to property: The Police inevitably damaged all modes of travel like motorcycles and cars during these raids. Even tractors and wooden carts were not spared. We 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 Shmt. 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 Shmt. Munni was damaged. The hay stacks in Mukut Lal’s house were set on fire. The car, tractor and water pump of Shmt. 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 the home of Shmt. Dayawati. The motorcycle in the house of Shmt. 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 deceased farmer Late Shri Rajpal was damaged.

8. Violence Against Women: 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 Shmt. Kanti Devi was also hospitalized till yesterday with injuries. Shmt. 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. AIDWA strongly condemns 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 we met.

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This entire sordid episode reveals that the UP government has precipitated matters in Bhatta-Parsaul due to its adamant and highhanded approach towards land acquisition. There is clear evidence of Police brutality and repression in the two villages. Women have faced the brunt of Police brutality and are extremely terrorized. They are in distress about male household members who are injured, jailed or have left the villages fearing police attacks. We found them to be extremely intimidated about heavy police presence in the area and found one instance where even yesterday the Police knocked at a door at midnight.

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 homes. Food must be provided to needy villagers.

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, including the 2 PAC constables, the effort to take revenge upon all 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.

The Union government must amend that 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.

Sd/-

Sudha Sundararaman (General Secretary)

ALL INDIA DEMOCRATIC WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION

15, TALKATORA ROAD, NEW DELHI – 110 001

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