Rahul begins yatra to ‘study’ land acquisition

Signalling a stepped-up campaign against the Mayawati government, Rahul Gandhi, embarked on a yatra from Greater Noida to Agra to talk to farmers whose land has been acquired for the Taj Expressway.

Updated: Jul 06, 2011, 00:11 AM IST

Greater Noida: Throwing a fresh challenge
to Chief Minister Mayawati, Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday visited Bhatta-
Parsaul again to kickstart his foot march nearly two months
after his visit to the twin villages, the epicentre of
farmers` protests that had led to his midnight arrest.

The Congress General Secretary made Bhatta-Parsaul,
which saw widespread protests over land acquisition in Uttar
Pradesh two months back, the first stop of his `Kisan Sandesh
Yatra` when he came calling in a car at 6 am drumming up
support for the planned kisan mahapanchayat in Aligarh on
Saturday ahead of next year`s Assembly elections.

Rahul visited a number of villages in this Gautam Budh
Nagar district, met farmers and tried to know problems being
faced by them. He also held `Choupals`(informal assembly of
people), some of it under the trees on the roadside.

Till evening, Rahul walked around 25 km on foot and
covered Rustampur, Nagla Bhatauna and Dayanathpur besides
Bhatta and Parsaul, according to UPCC spokesman Akhilesh
Pratap Singh, who is accompanying the scion of the
Nehru-Gandhi family.

In the afternoon, Rahul relished "desi food"--Dal,
Roti and Chhach at one Rajiv SIngh Jat`s house in Nagla
Bhatauna, where people of nearby villages also joined in after
hearing the news of his arrival.
During the yatra, Rahul preferred to talk less and
hear more from the farmers and poor villagers, a person
accompanying him said.

Rahul is expected to stay overnight in Jewar, a tehsil
in Gautam Buddha Nagar and will rersume his yatra early
tomorrow.

The Mayawati government refused Rahul permission to
hold a kisan mahapanchayat in Bhatta Parsaul in the outkirts
of Delhi as the two sides geared up for another round of
confrontation.

"Whatever happened in Bhatta Parsaul, other people
were not aware of it. I wanted to understand this land
acquisition happening here, from here to Agra," he said
addressing villagers at one place.

"This yatra I have started from Bhatta, from here I
will to go to villages and I will try to understand this
acquisition, the new law and the peoples` opinion on this law.
How, where and for whom are the laws getting implemented I
want to understand.

"That is why I have come here and will go to other
villages to understand the same," he said.

Sitting on a rope cot, Rahul looked very much at home,
holding a small, beaming child in school uniform on his lap as
he talked to villagers in Bhatta-Parsaul. Rahul was
accompanied by security personnel.
Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said Rahul
Gandhi`s foot march was aimed at getting first-hand
information from people on the impact of Mayawati government`s
land acquisition policy.

"The foot march is to know what is the benefit, what
is the impact of the land acquisition policy of the Mayawati
government. When and where he will go, we do not have
information," Singh told reporters.

He said that farmers facing problems relating to land
acquisition in any part of UP should come to the party`s rally
in Aligarh on July 9 and speak out.

Rahul was arrested by the Mayawati government in
Bhatta Parsaul on the night of May 11 and released after a few
hours when he had gone there to oppose the police action
against farmers during their protests against land
acquisition. Four persons were killed during the police
action.

He told the villagers that the Congress is
dedicated to take up their cause and was therefore holding the
mahapanchayat.

Congress leaders accompanying Rahul told Bhatta
Parsaul farmers that the kisan mahapanchayat was earlier
scheduled to be held at Bhatta Parsaul but as the
administration did not give permission the venue was shifted
to Aligarh. Some areas of Aligarh saw massive agitation
against land acquisition in August last year.

Gandhi reached Rampur village near Jewar at around 7
pm and has decided to stay there overnight.

Tomorrow he will proceed to Jewar and Aligarh
villages.

Congress leader Virendra Dhada said, "Farmers at all
the villages greeted Rahul and expressed their problems before
him without any inhibitions."

PTI