The farmers' stir got murkier as two policemen lost their lives and district magistrate Deepak Aggarwal sustained a bullet injury during a clash between farmers and the police on Saturday. The police had gone to rescue three Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) employees, who were held hostage by farmers on Friday. One farmer also succumbed to his injuries at a hospital here.
The farmers have been protesting against the state government's land acquisition policies in the twin villages of Bhatta-Parsaul since January 17. But, they say, the government and the administration never took the matter seriously. The administration's response came only after they resorted to violence, but it hardly showed will to resolve the matter.
Just after a month, on February 18, farmers allegedly abducted two senior government officials — deputy chief executive officer RK Singh and deputy collector SP Singh. They had gone to a village for a meeting with farmers.
Though the two officers were released, farmers in Greater Noida threatened to intensify their stir. They said they would talk only to government representatives and not to local officials.
On February 21, the agitators allegedly attacked a truck carrying security officials. They allegedly kidnapped a sub-inspector. He was rescued only after the security men clashed with farmers. Many farmers were injured in the incident. An FIR was lodged against 200 unknown farmers.
Leaders across party lines poured in, but only to gain political mileage. They did nothing to help end the deadlock.
Two days after the clash, on February 23, the farmers allegedly blocked construction work at several points on Yamuna Expressway. The expressway will link Greater Noida to Agra. However, the work started on February 24.
The agitators, then, threatened to march to Parliament, block highways in several cities, and paralyse construction work on Yamuna Expressway and Formula 1 track in Greater Noida.
On March 3, the state government directed the authority to ensure that farmers are not able to disrupt normalcy at any cost.
On March 13, the protestors called a mahapanchayat. They asked the authority to fix 80% residential land price as their land compensation. They also sought that half of their plots be left for agricultural purposes.
Representatives of farmers held a meeting with UP minister Chaudhary Laxmi Narayan. Tension intensified in Greater Noida areas, after he did not visit Bhatta and Parsaul villages again, as promised. The enraged farmers, then, tried to disrupt the Delhi-Howrah rail link and clashed with the police.
On March 26, policemen and farmers clashed near Mirzapur village. The farmers damaged police vehicles and abducted two government officials. Twelve farmers were arrested.
After days of hide-and-seek, top police and administrative officials, finally, met the farmers on April 1. No breakthrough, however, could be achieved.
Meerut commissioner Bhuvnesh Kumar, IG Rajni Kant Mishra and Ghaziabad SSP Raghubir Lal reached the dharna site and held a meeting with farmers.
On April 7, farmers and officials said they were hopeful to bring a peaceful end to the agitation. But the situation has become worse.