BKU lifts siege at toll plazas in Uttar Pradesh



Traffic across toll plazas in Uttar Pradesh resumed Friday after the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) withdrew its 37-day-old agitation by farmers in the wake of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav promising to look into their demand of free toll plaza-access across the state.

Akhilesh Yadav invited a BKU delegation to meet him in the state capital Dec 13.

Government officials had been negotiating with the agitating BKU activists and their leader Rakesh Tikait throughout Thursday. A "deal" was made following a phone call from the chief minister's office wherein the activists were informed that Akhilesh Yadav had agreed to meet them and would look into their "justified demands".

The message from Akhilesh Yadav was communicated to BKU leaders by Meerut District Magistrate Vikas Gothalwal and Senior Superintendent of Police K. Satya Narayan.

The agitating farmers then allowed traffic to pass through the Sivaya toll plaza on National Highway (NH) 58. By midnight, officials told IANS, toll was being charged on vehicles.

As news of the negotiation and the chief minister's assurance spread, farmers ended their siege of toll plazas at Bijnore barrage, Saharsawa in Saharanpur and in Gorakhpur.

Earlier, the Western Toll plaza management had filed a petition before the Allahabad High Court seeking damages for the losses on the toll plaza due to the farmers' agitation. The hearing of the case is listed Dec 11.

Officials said the petition spurred the government into action and principal secretary (home) asked district officials to find a solution to the impasse.

District officials Thursday had pasted recovery notices worth Rs.11.8 crore at houses of 11 BKU and farmer leaders. The state government softened its stand when farmers threatened mass self-immolation if action was taken against their leaders.- IANS