The three villages in Unnao district in UP, where police lathicharged farmers during a land acquisition stir on Saturday, remained tense on Monday even as there was no sign of any protest amid heavy police deployment.
Farmers claimed that the district administration was harassing them for holding protests and youngsters have fled their homes fearing arrests. But police denied the charges, saying that additional forces have been deployed to ensure that there is no law and order problem again.
“Police have been deployed within and outside the village and they are not allowing us to go out of our village. In the night, the police raid our homes and harass and beat up our family members. The male members don’t stay in the houses in the night and are forced to hide in fields fearing police action,” Anil Verma, a resident of Shankarpur Sarai village, said.
Ajay Kumar, another resident of Shankarpur Sarai, where maximum police personnel have been deployed since it is the nearest to the township project for which the land has been acquired, also said the villagers are very scared. “We are living under fear as police personnel stand guard every 50 metres in our village. People are afraid to speak on the issue and avoid holding meetings to chalk out our next step… There is a fear of arrests because no one knows who all are named in the case.”
On Monday, three more people were arrested, taking the total number of arrests since Saturday’s clash to eight. Police have registered three FIRs in connection with the clashes.
In neighbouring Kanhawapur and Manhauna villages, residents said that they are not moving out of their houses, fearing arrest. “A group of people from our village went to Shankarpur Sarai village today after coming to know that some political leaders have come there to meet the villagers. They had gone to explain how police beat them and their family members. Fearing they may face trouble after returning home, they decided not to return,” said Sanjay Kumar of Kanhawapur village.
Police, however, dismissed the charges. “Police are conducting raids to trace the accused who are wanted in the case. No one is being harassed in the name of police action,” Additional SP (Unnao) Vinod Kumar Pandey said.
Police sources said that at least 650 personnel have been deployed with anti-riot equipment in the three villages.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh State Industrial (UPSIDA) Development Authority, which had acquired the land for the Rs 2,000-crore Trans Ganga City project, said that they have reclaimed the acquired land from the villagers and construction work began on Monday. “We hope to complete the project within two and a half years,” UPSIDA’s chief engineer Sandeep Chandra said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines