Farmers' agitation against land acquisition in Dadri has become a rallying point for a pressure group led by former Prime Minister VP Singh. Singh on Monday demanded the century-old Land Acquisition Act to be repealed, as according to him it was being misused.
The group also demanded a halt to the creation of Special Economic Zones in the country.
"Police once again mercilessly beat up farmers, women, children and the aged at Bajehra Khurd on Sunday. So much atrocity, all for the sake of real estate, was not inflicted even during British rule when this law was enacted," Singh said in New Delhi.
Claiming that villagers were being targeted like this in other parts of the country as well due to the government's rush to create SEZs - 'Independent Republics' with all sorts of incentives to corporates - he demanded that the Congress-led UPA government end this fraud," on the people.
The Left parties were supportive of the stand, the former PM said.
While pointing out that corporates were grabbing "lakhs of acres of prime agricultural land" in SEZs encircling cities across many states, the former Prime Minister asked why there was a need for the government to act as a go-between in any deal between a corporate and the land-owning farmer.
Socialist Surendra Mohan, activists Aruna Roy, Vandana Shiva, Prashant Bhushan and Rajinder Sachhar were present at the press conference. They argued that hidden in the claptrap of economic development were stories of the abuse of people's rights, destruction of environment and of mass corruption.
They denounced the Uttar Pradesh government saying that on the one hand land acquisition for the proposed Reliance power plant at Dadri reeked of "massive corruption" while on the other hand people's democratic protest was being suppressed.
"There is need for a serious debate on this problem. This is a national crisis," Aruna Roy said, citing it alongside unresolved development-related issues such as displacement, rehabilitation and resettlement.
Singh, whose Jan Morcha has been spearheading a political campaign against the Mulayam Singh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh, said he would strive to spread word about the "injustice" perpetrated against the farmers of Dadri vigorously in the rest of the state.
A Jan Sena comprising youths was also being formed to fight the cause, he informed. The Morcha would let every village, especially in western Uttar Pradesh know of Dadri ka Dard (the pain of Dadri), he warned.