Farmers in line of fire by Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam (MAY 11, 2011)

Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam says government’s wrong priorities have led to farmers’ rage and ruin.

The way the farmers’ unrest has spread quickly from Greater Noida near Delhi to Aligarh, Mathura and Agra districts is alarming. For all this, no one but Uttar Pradesh government of the day is responsible.

The fire had been smouldering in Bhatta Parsaul village, the epicentre of the violent clashes between policemen and villagers angry over the undervaluation of their land acquired by the government.

Fed up with the indifference of the political authority in Lucknow and a heartless bureaucracy all over, the farmers had begun to lose faith in justice way back in early 2010.

Desperate farmers began to kidnap government officials last year. Even that did not move the government. Denied justice, the farmers initiated violent protests and clashes with the police. That did not lead Ms Mayawati to consider some serious action intended to address the grievances of the farmers.

Faced with continual neglect of the administration the farmers kept up their pressure. The unrelenting administration tried to suppress it by force. On Saturday (May 7, 2011), violent clashes between the administration and farmers claimed four lives—two of policemen and two of farmers. Important district officials, including the district magistrate, and others got hurt.

As usual, policemen went on a rampage and set fire to homes in Bhatta Parsaul village. All males have left the village because of police terror.

Despite (or because of) police action, the situation is far from under control. However, the UP government has not relented, much less repented. That has provoked farmers to fight back and spread the fire to neighbouring districts.

To conclude, one must unequivocally assert that this, like thousands of farmer’s suicides every year in India, is solely because of anti-farmer policies at the Centre and states. The farmers are at the receiving end of a government policy that favours the moneyed classes at the cost of the toiling masses.

Fair and just policies, not police lathis and bullets, would be the solution to the famers’ unrest. The sooner UP and central governments heed this the better.


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