Farmers' protest in Uttar Pradesh for toll free travel spreads
The protests by famers in Uttar Pradesh led by the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), seeking free access at all toll bridges in the state, is spreading fast and wide.
The farmers Thursday threatened to capture the toll plazas at two other points in Firozabad and Moradabad.
On Wednesday, they took over the Gorakhpur toll plaza and opened it for free to all vehicles.
They also seized the Sivayan toll plaza on national highway 58. They are already holding on to the Dasna toll plaza for the fourth day. The union also holds the Shahjahanpur toll plaza.
The BKU has also preponed a maha panchayat meeting, initially set for Dec 18. It would now be held at Meerut Dec 8 at the Sivayan toll plaza.
The farmers want free movement across the toll plazas in Uttar Pradesh.
In a letter to the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), the BKU had demanded that since most toll roads were built on land acquired from them, they should be made toll free.
The farmers have been protesting against the toll tax on the Yamuna Expressway for more than a month and say that it was just a matter of time before they lay seize of toll plazas across the state.
BKU leader Chowdhary Rakesh Tikait warned the Samajwadi Party government not to think of arresting them.
Farmer leaders say if Tikait was arrested, they would resort to mass self-immolation.
Tikait has claimed he has received a telephonic threat demanding that his men vacate the toll plazas or face dire consequences.
"This is a bizarre situation. On the one hand the government is inviting industry and on the other it is not acting against unreasonable demands of such people," rued an industrialist.