Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi caught the Gautam Budh Nagar district administration off guard and reached Bhatta village in Greater Noida in the wee hours on Wednesday, where farmers and police clashed on Saturday, leaving two each from both sides dead and several others, including the DM and SSP, injured.
Rahul reached Bhatta, epicentre of the ongoing farmer agitation against the state government's land acquisition policies, on a motorcycle at 4.30am and met villagers of Bhatta, Parsaul and Acchepur.
Till 2pm, Rahul along with Congress leaders was in the trouble-hit areas, despite the administration's request to leave.
He is the first politician to have reached there after large-scale violence was reported over the weekend over land acquisition issues.
Senior leaders were, including BJP's Rajnath Singh and Samajwadi Party's Shivpal Singh Yadav, earlier stopped by the police at Delhi-Noida border and they could not reach the village.
He did not take sector 14A entry point or the DND Flyway, where police had been deployed to stop politicians from entering the violence-hit villages. He entered Greater Noida via Dadri-Surajpur road. He first reached Bhatta, spoke to villagers, then went to Parsaul and Achhepur villages.
At Parsaul village, he became part of a chaupal. Angry old farmers and women showed their wounds and bruises to Rahul Gandhi, made elaborate gestures to indicate how policemen thrashed farmers during and after Saturday's violence.
An elderly farmer said, "The police set fire to places where we stored foodgrains."
An old woman said, "They (the police) did not spare anyone; not even women and children. We want justice."
Rahul took round of the entire village on foot and met with injured farmers.
The strong police force deployed at the Bhatta Parsaul village failed to notice the Congress general secretary. It was only when he began meeting farmers and heard their grievances that the policemen recognised him.
Four people, including two policemen, were killed in Saturday's clashes between police and farmers in Greater Noida. The farmers were demanding higher compensation for the land acquired by the Mayawati government for the Yamuna expressway project.