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Monday, May 21, 2012

Striking farmers begin indefinite fast at Sariska

TNN | May 21, 2012, 03.14AM IST ALWAR: As the agitation by farmers at Sariska Tiger Reserve entered the fifth day on Sunday, at least 13 of them have sat on an indefinite fast to put pressure on the state government to meet their demands. The farmers under the banner of Bharatiya Kisan Union are demanding refurbishing of Sariska road and basic facilities in the villages. At least 50 villages in and around Sariska are participating in the agitation. The agitation has hit the tiger tourism as farmers are not allowing tourists to enter the reserve. They have threatened not to give up the agitation unless their demands are met. Yudhvir Singh, national general secretary of BKU said, "Thirteen farmers have sat on indefinite fast at the reserve gates from Sunday". The farmers are demanding lifting of ban on registration of land in 164 villages in the area that was imposed in 1987 and announcing forest road leading to Sariska as national highway. "The government did not fulfill its promises which it had made to the farmers earlier. They made the national highway, a lifeline for all the villages in the area, as forest road. This time we will not make any agreement with the government unless they accept our demands," he added. These farmers had staged a sit-in in March for almost a week. They claimed that they had reached a compromise on six points with the district administration and forest department. However, the administration is not considering it, they alleged. They said that the administration had promised to meet their demand. However, the officials are now pretending to be helpless citing some Supreme Court orders. The farmers' protest in March had hit the hotels as they received mails and calls from tourists cancelling their trips. Angry villagers had even blocked the entrance to prominent hotels by placing piles of wood and stones. Sariska's field director RS Shekhawat said the main entrance to Sariska Tiger Reserve has been blocked by the villagers and efforts are on to reach a compromise with them. The farmers on Sunday threatened not to allow entry of even forest officers in the reserve.

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