The Noida Authority office in Sector 6 has been shut for days now, with hundreds of angry farmers laying siege to its foyer, and disrupting citizen services like land registration and water and electricity complaints and queries.
In what looked like an ‘Occupy Authority office’ protest, the farmers have slowly moved in over the last four days with a grievance as old as from 2011. First, they say, they lost their farmland and now their homes too in the flawed government land acquisition process.
The upcoming 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly election has also started to figure at the protest site, with some women saying they will boycott the polls and not cast their vote.
Even before this week’s sit-in gained momentum, the Noida Authority office has been partially inaccessible to residents because of the protest. Flex boards with slogans like ‘Ritu Maheshwari Noida choro’ (Ritu Maheshwari leave Noida) or ‘Samadhan ya Samadhi’ (solution or cremation) put up at the protest site.
Brijpal Singh, who lives in Sector 52, had arrived at Noida Authority for a matter related to land registry, but was told that the office premises have been shut because of farmers from 81 villages staging a sit-in protest.
Sub-Divisional Magistrate S.C. Mishra (public health) said the protest has caused disruption in services, which many people avail in-person at the Noida Authority office.
Farmers are demanding that 10 per cent of the residential land against the total land acquired from them by the Noida Authority for ‘development’ be returned to them. While a few have received the compensation both in terms of money and land, most are yet to be compensated. As of now, a compensation of Rs 571 crore has been given to the farmers out of Rs 6,000 crore.
The farmers want 64.7 per cent more compensation to what they have received so far, old Abadi settlement in villages, and a stop on unregulated construction.
As per the 2015 Supreme Court judgment in the Savitri Devi versus State of UP, the court asked the Noida Authority to follow through on the compensation. The protesters are demanding that the conditions be fulfilled.
Protesters won’t budge
“Humara kaam nahi kar rahe. Humara haq hume nahin de rahe. Hum chahte hain ki jis conditions pe land acquisition hua, woh fulfill kar dein bas (Noida Authority is not doing our work. We are not getting our due. We just want the Authority to fulfill the conditions under which it acquired the land from us),” says Sudhir Chauhan, who has been protesting at Sector 6 since September.
Farmers have been protesting against the Noida Authority since 1 September. But the sit-in protest in front of the office in Sector 6 began around 45 days ago, because farmers were not happy with the response they got from the Authority.
Around 200 farmers from 81 villages of Noida and Greater Noida had been camping outside the main administrative building of the Authority, which swelled on Wednesday.
The crowd of protesters grows after 10 am every day and thins out in the evening, as some of them return home. However, most farmers have now started staying during the night as well to extend support to those who have been fasting since Monday. Earlier, the farmers were letting the Noida Authority officers pass through, and were also allowing the cleaning staff to go inside. Now the premises are off-limits for everyone.
The political push
Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav called farmers and threw his weight behind the agitation. Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh also attended the protest on Monday. After Akhilesh Yadav’s call, 10 farmers announced that they will observe an indefinite fast to push for their demands. Later, two more farmers joined them on Tuesday. Now, 14 men and six women farmers are on a hunger strike.
“Our fast unto death will not end till the Authority accepts our demands on our terms,” said Sukhbir Yadav, founder president of Bhartiya Kisan Parishad. Yadav is leading the protest.
Manju Chauhan from Shahpur village in Sector 128 says, “Jab tak maangein nahin puri hongi, nahi jaenge. Hum bheek thodi maang rahe – jo humara hai, wo lene aye hain. (We will not go back unless our demands are met. We are not begging. We are here to take what’s ours).”
This article will be updated once the Nodia Authority responds to ThePrint’s queries.
(Edited by Prashant)