Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Saturday took both the Mayawati government and Aligarh farmers by surprise when he reached Tappal village, the epicentre of peasants' protest demanding enhanced compensation for land acquired for the Yamuna Expressway.
Farmers have been protesting at Tappal for the last three weeks demanding a substantial enhancement in the compensation offered to them for their land acquired to build the 165 km Noida-Agra Yamuna Expressway.
The Gandhi scion first went to the spot at Tappal, where hundreds of farmers from Aligarh and neighbouring districts have been on a round-the-clock sit-in.
Assuring demonstrators of the Congress party's full support, he said that he was with them and would be ready to assist them in their struggle for justice.
He then visited different villages to offer condolence to the families of each of the two victims, including a 12-year-old boy, who were killed in police firing Aug 14.
Undaunted by the heavy downpour in several parts of the region, as also along his 110 km drive from New Delhi, he went from village to village and was greeted warmly by farmers.
The expressway, which is expected to reduce the driving time between New Delhi and Agra to just about 90 minutes, will pass through Gautam Buddha Nagar (Noida), Aligarh, Mahamaya Nagar (Hathras) and Mathura, and involves acquisition of land in 115 villages.
A total of 2,500 hectares is to be acquired for the development of the expressway - 500 hectares each in Noida, Aligarh and Agra and 1,000 hectares in Gautam Buddha Nagar.
The compensation amount was increased from Rs.449 per square metre to Rs.570 per square metre. But farmers refused to budge from the demand for compensation at the rate of Rs.880 per square metre that was paid in Greater Noida.