Business, Economics and Jobs

Indian farmer protest against highway spreads

An Indian policeman escorts injured Noida district magistrate Deepak Agarwal (R) during clashes between farmers and police in Greater Noida, some 40 kms southeast of New Delhi, on May 7, 2011. (AFP/Getty Images).

On Sunday, a North Indian farmers' protest against the forcible acquisition of land for a new highway spread across the state of Uttar Pradesh to Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal, in neighboring Rajasthan. Four people were killed in the violence as police in riot gear swept in to arrest agitators. Police arrested some 22 demonstrators for rioting and arson, as farmers threw stones and torched police vehicles in protest against the planned highway.

The Uttar Pradesh state government announced a reward of Rs 50,000 (around $1100) for information leading to the capture of Manveer Singh Tevetia, the leader of the protests, the Times of India reported.  

Four policemen were injured in Agra, where they were attacked by farmers demanding higher compensation for their land, the paper said, bringing the total to more than 20 people.  Meanwhile, a fourth person--this one a farmer--died as the result of injuries received during the violence Sunday at Noida's Kailash Hospital. Of the three killed on Saturday, two were police officers.

According to the Indian Express, work was forced to halt on the Yamuna Expressway, which is to link Greater Noida, a suburb of Delhi, with Agra.  

Noting that it's no coincidence that the riots are occurring with the Uttar Pradesh state elections less than a year away, the Times of India suggested that politics may be playing a role in the escalation, as Mayawati, the prominent Dalit leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), prepares a bid for re-election.

The BJP declared Monday a 'black day' at all district headquarters from Greater Noida to Agra, the paper said, although the party leaders were stopped by the police from visiting the site of the worst violence. The chief of another party, Ajit Singh, reached the site and blamed the chief minister, while Congress also criticized the state government's mishandling of the situation, the paper said.