In violation of the law, more than 350 landless families built makeshift houses on government land in Belthangady on Tuesday, after “being frustrated” with the government machinery in allocation of land.

Gathering under the banner of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the protesters built sheet houses and thatched-roof houses at Arali village near Ujire, Padanladka village near Hosangadi, Pernaki village, and Turkalike.

“Over 30,000 economically-backward people do not have homes in the taluk. More than 7,000 applications for allotment of government land have been lying idle in the tahsildar’s office in the last two years.

The government doesn’t seem to be doing anything for the poor, and so we have decided to violate the law and build the houses,” said Shekhar L., member of the local unit of CPI(M). The protesters said they would occupy the land until five cents of land was allotted to them for the construction of houses. “If thousands of acres of land can be given to industrialists or grabbed by politicians, why can’t the government allow just five cents to the poor,” asked B.M. Bhat, taluk head of the CPI(M), justifying the action.

The protesters said that if they were not given an assurance of regularisation of land, they would stage a sit-in protest at the Tahsildar’s office on Wednesday.

Kusuma Kumari, Belthangady Tahsildar, said the occupied land would not be regularised. “District officials will meet the protesters tomorrow and we’ll see what happens. But we cannot hand them the title deeds,” she said.

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