Social activist Medha Patkar dodged security personnel and sneaked into Bhatta village in Greater Noida, where farmers clashed with police on Saturday leaving two each from both sides dead and several others, including the local DM and the SSP, seriously injured. Patkar stayed in the village, which has been the epicentre of the farmer agitation against the state's land acquisition policies since January 17, for a good three hours. She visited several households and met women, elderly and children.
There were no menfolk around as they have deserted the village, fearing a backlash from the police.
Demanding a fair probe into the entire matter, Patkar said, "It's a matter of shame that a village in the home district of the chief minister has been deserted by its men due to the fear of police. Farmers and not the builders have brought the CM to power."
Patkar reached Bhatta around noon. Though section 144 of CrPC has been clamped in the village and a 2 km radius area has been sealed, she kept moving about in a group without senior officers having any clue about it.
Patkar said everyone in the village had told her that the police had committed atrocities on villagers. She refused to buy the theory that farmers had come prepared, fully armed with lathis and sharp-edged weapons to attack the police.
"These are the instruments villagers use for farming. These are not weapons," she said.
Patkar had on Monday said, "We will be joining the movement in Noida."
Meanwhile, top officials, including acting DM Sheetal Verma and SP (rural) RK Jolly, on Tuesday offered medicines and also explained to fear-stricken women, children and the elderly "the importance of letting the process of development continue." As part of a door-to-door campaign, they met villagers and convinced them for a meeting at a village school "to reflect and brace for future."
"We tried to explain to them that the administration is not against farmers. We told them not to be influenced by a handful of people whose only aim is to resort to violence to suit the interests of some," an official told Hindustan Times on the phone.