Seven years since violence erupted in Bhatta and Parsaul over land acquisition by the state government, an eerie calm prevailed on the polling day. The presence of Seema Suraksha Bal (SSB) armed forces equipped with machine guns added to the graveness of the affair.
However, villagers claim that they have decided to move forward despite their unhealed wounds. Bhatta and Parsaul fall under the Jewar constituency.
CK Sharma, static magistrate, Parsaul village, said, “All EC guidelines are being followed. We are trying our best to ensure that elections are held in free and fair manner and there is no sense of fear or intimidation among the voters.”
In 2010, four persons, including two policemen, were killed in sporadic violence that emerged after the Mayawati-led government attempted to acquire land of the villagers to set up planned sectors. While few villagers refused to sell their land, many of them were unhappy over the compensation received from the state government.
Though the official records state that four were killed and scores injured, villagers have claimed that the death toll is much higher, around 20.
“It has been seven years and since, the villagers have welcomed peace and no incidents of violence have taken place. Yet, the scars still remain and the agitations will still prove to be a decider in the polls,” Sudhir Kumar, a resident of Bhatta, said.
The Bhatta-Parsaul agitation has majorly influenced the political scenario in Jewar. Thakur Dhirendra Singh, an erstwhile Congress leader, emerged as a farmer-activist from the agitation, challenging the hegemony of Bahujan Samaj Party candidate, Ved Ram Bhati. Though Singh lost the 2012 legislative polls to Bhati, his loss margin was 9,000 votes. Singh had finished second, and the farmers had put him on a pedestal.
“Thakur sahib fought for the rights of the farmers when everyone called us arsonists and terrorists. He made us realise that it’s not that easy for the government to steal our land. I did not give an inch of my 15 bighas because he stayed with me till the end,” Chandrapal Singh, a retired primary school teacher in Bhatta, said.
The Bhatta-Parsaul incident gained national attention when Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi ate a meal at Chandrapal’s house with Dhirendra Singh. “This time, the village is in total support of Thakur sahab. He enjoys the support of the Muslim community as well,” Karan, of Parsaul, said.
However, some said that the tides have turned for Singh since he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party a month ago after a 30-year stint with the Congress. Many villagers accused him of capitalising on the agitation to become a politician.
“He got what we wanted out of the famer agitation. Today, both Congress and BJP need him and he needs them as well. What he doesn’t need are the farmers for whom he agitated to become famous. We will vote for BSP,” a farmer from Parsaul said.