UP village prepares to fight land acquisition

Over two thousand farmers, women and children of Katesar village in the naxalite-infested Chandauli district in the eastern Uttar Pradesh about 30 km from Varanasi across the Ganges have been holding a “dharna” for the past several days in protest against the proposed move by the officials to acquire their fertile lands for developing a City Centre.

The villagers have prepared a large number of “pyres” of wood and they could be seen before almost all the houses in the village and also on the road that leads to it. “We have kept the pyres ready...in case our lands are forcibly acquired, we will commit self-immolation,” said Dina Nath, a farmer.

Sticks could be seen in the hands of the village’s womenfolk. “We will not allow our fertile land to be acquired by any one.....our lives depend on it,” Dina Nath said. The land is fertile as it is closer to Ganges.

The villagers have been demanding a written assurance from the government that their land will not be acquired but the latter has not obliged the farmers so far. An attempt by the officials to persuade the villagers to part with their land failed and a sub-divisional magistrate and a circle officer were allegedly held hostage for several hours by the enraged villagers though the officials denied the incident.

The villagers have put up logs on the roads and have been camping near their fields to prevent any attempt to acquire them by force. The Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, an organisation of the farmers, who leads the agitation, has warned of serious ramifications if any attempt was made by the authorities to acquire the land.

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