Calling the farmers’ protest an “agitation by criminals”, the district administration arrested 32 villagers on Sunday after an extensive search operation in BhattaParsaul, Greater Noida.
The administration claimed that two UP policemen and two farmers have been killed in the clash, taking the death toll to four. Three constables are still admitted in the hospital, in a critical condition.
Officials said 11 injured farmers have been admitted to hospitals. “All injured farmers are out of danger. Three constables — Udai Veer Singh, Anirudh and Devendra — are critical,” said O P Arya, ADM.
Police have also constituted 27 teams to conduct search operations in the villages. Arya said police are looking for looted weapons, and not for villagers.
“During the clash, the villagers looted an SLR, a turbine and a rifle from our policemen. We have found the SLR, but are yet to find the other two,” he said.
The villagers, however, said police are looking for male members of families. “Many villagers are hiding with bullet wounds. My husband refused to be admitted to the hospital as he is afraid of being killed,” said Beermati Devi, whose husband received a bullet injury in the leg.
The administration has evoked Section 144 (a ban on public gatherings) in Bhatta Parsaul and announced Rs 50,000 for information on Manveer Singh Tevatia, the alleged mastermind of the clash. A reward amount has also been announced for five others.
Officials said they had gone to the village to resolve the issue through discussions, but Tevatia did not come for talks. “We had to go on the offensive after they abducted three government employees. The villagers have asked government officials not to step within 500 metres of the village boundary. When they (the three officials) did, they were taken hostage,” said an official.
On farmers’ death, officials said one Bajpai Chattra was killed by villagers. When they were trying to hide his body, they found police coming their way. “They blamed one of the farmers’ death on us, which is false,” said Arya.
Farmers have alleged around 150 people from the village are missing and have been picked up by the police. “I do not know where my son is. Police said they have not taken him away, but they took him in front of me,” said Sunita.
The district administration denied any knowledge of the allegations of missing villagers. “If we believe they have committed a crime by attacking police, we will arrest them and not hide them,” said an official.