A protest two decades old has finally come to an end for 24 Dalit families of Gangooru in Arakalgud taluk. The families were freed from bonded labour in 1994, but had not received compensation so far.

As part of the relief package, the families will get three acres of land each in Sakaleshpur taluk. H.C. Mahadevappa, Minister for Public Works and Hassan in-charge, will hand over certificates of possession at a programme to be held in Hassan on Tuesday.

The district administration has identified land in Sakaleshpur taluk and divided it into plots of three acres each. The government had property of 56 acres and required another 16 acres to provide compensation. They cleared encroachment of 16 acres by neighbouring coffee planters.

The land notified for the freed bonded labourers are spread over four different survey numbers of four villages. Many members of these families had worked for 25 to 30 years as bonded labours only to clear loans borrowed by their parents. Following protests by progressive organisations, including the Dalit Sangharsha Samiti, the district administration released them in 1994. They were promised land as compensation.

K.P. Mohan Raj, the previous Deputy Commissioner, had identified government land for them in Sakaleshpur. However, the process of allotting land did not go forward as owners of neighbouring lands moved the court, claiming possession of the identified land.

Deputy Commissioner V. Anbukkumar, who took charge recently, identified alternative land for these families. The administration has also decided to provide borewells for them under the Ganga Kalyan scheme.

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