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Farmers refused permission of protest rally in Gujarat capital, hand over demand to return 556 sq km land midway

By Our Representative
Gujarat farmers belonging to 68 villages on Friday were not allowed to take their vehicles rally to the state capital Gandhinagar. While the permission for the rally was sought for about 45 km stretch, starting at Dabhol village, and ending at Gandhinagar, the police "allowed" the rally for just 25 km, stopping midway at Kalol town, about 20 km from the state capital.
Organized by the non-political Khedut Samaj Gujarat (GKS), and supported by OBC-SC-ST Ekta Manch and Mul Nivasi Sena, the the farmers' rally was meant to protest against the state government, which had rejected their demand seeking cancellation of the 2009 notification, which "reserved" 566.35 sq km of agricultural area in the outskirts of Ahmedabad for urban development.
Sagar Rabari of the KSG, who along with other leaders handed over a list of the farmers' demand meant for chief minister Vijay Rupani to a local state official at the end of the rally, said, "We have approached the Gujarat High Court against the frequent refusal of permission to protest, which is our fundamental right. The petition is being heard in the High Court and awaits a decision."
About 4,000 farmers on 300-odd tractors and other vehicles participated in the 25-km rally, with farmers shouting anti-government slogans. Among those who led the rally included Baldevji Thakore, Congress MLA, as an individual participant. Sarpanches of several villages which are under BJP control also participated in the rally.
Ealier on Tuesday, Gujarat's deputy chief minister Nitin Patel, who met farmers' representatives of the 68 villages, accused them of being "instigated" by the Congress for electoral gains in view of the upcoming Gujarat state assembly elections, scheduled for December. Patel had called them for a meeting in Gandhinagar Sachivalaya.
One of the top participants in the meeting with Patel told reporters later that Patel "did not listen" to their demand, but instead used abusive language, addressing their leaders in casteist language. "We are not going to tolerate such an attitude of such a high dignitary of the Gujarat government", he said.
The letter addressed to the chief minister said that, despite the lapse of eight years, the Gujarat government has done "nothing" for the urban development of the region, even as taking away the farmers' right over their land.
"Even the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA) has recognised that till 2021, looking to the density of population of the area, just about 84 sq km area would be needed for urban development. Hence it is difficult to understand as to why the state government wants to transfer 566.35 sq km of farmers' land for urban development", the letter reads.
Rabari said, "Under the 2009 notification, the farmers would have to part with 40% of their agricultural land for urban development. Further, 90% of the common village land would would be reserved for AUDA." He added, "Worse, farmers have been deprived of freely selling their land for non-agricultural purposes. These restrictions have made farmers angry. This was the main reason why they decided to take out the tractor rally."

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