The violent agitation by farmers in western Uttar Pradesh spread further on Tuesday, despite the state government's offer of more money as compensation for land acquired for the 165 km long Noida-Agra Expressway.
While the agitating farmers of Aligarh and Mathura rejected the government's offer, farmers in neighbouring Agra district also began protesting on Tuesday.
Under pressure from agitating farmers and political parties, the Mayawati government on Monday night increased the total compensation for the Aligarh farmers from Rs 449 per square metre to Rs 570 per square metre, and told them that their land would be returned if they did not agree to the proposed new rates.
The government also released the farmers’ leader Ram Babu Katelia unconditionally, and withdrew all ten cases against farmers in Aligarh and Mathura.
The farmers' protests were echoed in the Parliament on Tuesday, with BSP members finding themselves isolated over the way in which the BSP-led government has dealt with the issue. Several MPs demanded higher compensation for the farmers.
Uttar Pradesh Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh on Monday held discussions with the protesting farmers who had been demanding compensation at par with their counterparts in Noida (who were paid R880 per sq m).
The state, however, agreed to increase the assistance by R121 per sq m.Shekhar said Chief Minister Mayawati was committed to protecting farmers' interests and their land would not be acquired without their consent.
Three farmers were killed in police firing during an agitation at Tappal, 56 km west of Aligarh, on August 15.
Shekhar Singh said the compensation to families of those killed had been increased from R5 lakh to R10 lakh. Those injured would get Rs 2 lakh.
The UP government is acquiring 5,665 hectares (56.65 sq km) land for the highway and five townships.
"Farmers have laid down their lives and suffered police atrocities," a protestor said.
"We want the right compensation for our rich land."
All this, however, proved insufficient to placate the Aligarh agitators, who have now formed a 20-member committee to consider any further government offers and also decide their further course of action.