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International airport in Azamgarh where so far no air flight has been undertaken?

By Harsh Thakor* 

These days Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh is in the process of constructing an international airport at Manduri, with the Modi-Yogi governments endorsing their dream project. For the last 72 days, 670 acres of land in eight villages of Khiria Bagh is in the process of being snatched by the government for the construction of an international airport.
This has invited a strong resurgence from the inhabitants of the area: a perfect illustration of how the current BJP regime is leaving no stone unturned in promoting the objectives of globalisation, which paves way for one-sided or unbalanced development in favour of the exploiter classes.
Fifteen years ago in the year 2007 Mulayam Singh Yadav inaugurated the airstrip. In the year 2017 the Yogi government came to Uttar Pradesh and inaugurated the airport.
It is startling that till date no air flight has been undertaken from here. The acquired land now has replaced paddy-wheat with an office with kush and shrubs is visible.
It is condemnable that till date no notice has been issued to the villagers. According to the newspapers, the villages north of Manduri Four Lane have been captured and the villagers were persuaded to shift towards villages in southern areas.
On 12-13 November 2022, at 1-2 o'clock in the night, the Deputy Collector, Sagdi, many revenue workers and policemen barged along to undertake a survey.
The villagers resolutely affirmed that under no condition did they wish to part with their land, so there was no justification for any land survey. The representatives of the administration started beating the villagers, throwing obscene, casteist abuses.
The villagers have made an unconditional demand that the acquisition of land and houses should be scrapped in the name of expansion.
Sunita Bharti, aged 22 years, Phoolmati 50 years old, Prabhadevi 40 years old, and Gyanmati 50 years old received injuries and villagers Rahul Rajbhar, Vinod Rajbhar, Indrajit Rajbhar, Vikas Rajbhar etc. were held in police custody for 24 hours and charged on grounds of section 151 of the Indian Penal Code.
This incident created tremors in the hearts of the villagers who apprehend that disaster is forthcoming.
Villagers have made unconditional demand that acquisition of land and houses should be scrapped
For 70 days, a peaceful dharna has been  undertaken on in Khiria Ki Bagh of Jamua Hariram village. Exhibiting relentless spirit, the villagers of Gadanpur, Hichchanpatti, Jigina Karmanpur, Jamua Hariram, Jamua Jolha, Hasanpur, Kadipur Harikesh, Jehra Pipri, Manduri and Baldev Manduri Azamgarh district have united and staged dharna.
They demanded that the master plan for expansion of Manduri airport should be withdrawn and the culprits on the night of 12-13 October 2022, should be brought to the book by conducting a judicial inquiry into the harassment of women and villagers by the administration.
They also insisted, the District Magistrate should come to the picket site and grant an assurance in writing that there will be no acquisition of land and houses.
The action of police harassment and the question of saving land and houses spurred the people of the area to express solidarity.
The movement has garnered the support of the people of the region as well as the agitators of the United Kisan Morcha led by Rakesh Tikait. 
Medha Patekar of the National Coordination of People's Movements (NAPM), Arundhati Dhruv, Dr Muniza Rafiq Khan of the Citizen for Justice and Peace, the Bhagat Singh Student Front, the All India Progressive Students Forum, the Madhadkash Mukti Morcha and Varanasi's Lokvidya Peeth have also supported of the movement, elevating the protest of the Azamgarh airport to the country-state level.
Ten people have succumbed to heart attack or high blood pressure due to pulsating pressure during the 70 days old struggle. The family members explained the causes of these deaths, stating how being deprived of land disillusionment with gloomy prospects ahead, fear, anxiety took the toll of their lives.
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*Freelance journalist who has covered mass movements around India

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