Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Saturday accused the Uttar Pradesh government of giving the land of "lakhs of farmers" in Uttar Pradesh to builders and said the farmers had to face bullets if they demanded their rights.
Addressing the party's massive farmers' rally or 'kisan mahapanchayat' at Numaish Maidan here, Gandhi compared the land acquisition policy of Congress-ruled Haryana with that of the Mayawati government and said farmers in Uttar Pradesh were not even informed when their lands were acquired.
"Land of lakhs of farmers is being taken in Uttar Pradesh and being given to builders. When farmers say give us our rights, they have to face bullets," Gandhi said.
"Wherever I go, farmers say that if their land is taken then they should get the right price for it. 'We are killed and the government doesn't even talk to us if we talk about our rights'," Gandhi quoted farmers as saying.
Referring to his visit to Tappal last year and to Bhatta-Parsaul villages of Greater Noida in May, Gandhi said that protesting farmers had to face police bullets.
"The painful thing is that the farmers were not doing anything wrong. Only seeking their rights. Police fired at them, killed them," he said.
Gandhi said he had not met any farmer or labourer who was against development.
"They want proper money for their land. They are not against development or against roads," Gandhi said, and added that land was taken from farmers for constructing golf courses.
He said the central government will try to bring in a land acquisition bill in the interest of farmers.
"We will try our best to give such a law in Lok Sabha that is in the interest of farmers, labourers," he said.
Referring to his march over the past four days through villages in western Uttar Pradesh that culminated in the kisan mahapanchayat on Saturday, Gandhi said leaders should go to the people.
Congress leaders present at the rally included state Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi and union ministers Salman Khurshid, Sri Prakash Jaiswal, Sachin Pilot, R P N Singh and Beni Prasad Verma.
Braving heavy rains, farmers and Congress workers today gathered here for the 'kisan mahapanchayat', marking the culmination of Rahul Gandhi's four-day foot march in Uttar Pradesh.
Travelling in buses, trucks and tractor-trolleys, the villagers arrived from the wee hours at the sprawling Nomaish
Ground here, amid tight security.
Senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid, union ministers Sachin Pilot and Jitin Prasad and state unit president Rita Bahuguna Joshi were among those present.
Heavy rains, however, led to waterlogginng at the venue and also damaged the waterproof tents erected for the assembly to be addressed by Rahul. But the crowds soon began to surge as the showers stopped.
"We have come here because we are hopeful that Rahul Gandhi's leadership will herald change in Uttar Pradesh," said
a Congress leader from Meerut J P Singh, who has been camping here since last night.
With Congress leaders and workers thronging the town, no hotel accommodation was available in the area.
Huge posters of Rahul Gandhi dominated the complex. Four big hoardings on the stage had pictures of Congress chief
Sonia Gandhi, Rahul, Joshi and AICC incharge for UP Digvijay Singh.
A muti-tier security ring was in place in and around the venue. On Thursday, Rahul faced a security scare when a
young man carrying a licensed revolver was detained while trying to move close to him in Tappal during the 'padyatra'.
Rahul yesterday wound up his foot march through the dusty heartlands of rural Uttar Pradesh and returned to Delhi.