Gujarat gov’t has frozen land records of thousands of Sikh farmers in Bhuj, says farmer
Declared “outsiders” by the Narendra Modi Government in Gujarat, nearly 5,000 Sikh farmers of Bhuj district in the Kutch region face eviction and are now pinning their hopes on a favourable verdict from the Supreme Court.
In the Capital to raise the issue at the national level with the help of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), the Sikh farmers said their situation was worse than what the victims of Partition had faced.
At a press conference organised by the AIKS, farmer Lakshman Singh Brar said: “After making us wait for months, Mr. Modi met us recently and threatened us with dire consequences if we did not surrender our land and leave. He even suggested that we could be billed as terrorists.”
Another affected farmer, Surinder Singh Bhullar, says: “Our families relocated from Punjab and Haryana at the behest of the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri [after the 1965 war with Pakistan]. We tilled what was arid land and managed to grow cotton and wheat there. Now we are being called ‘outsiders’ by Mr. Modi, whose party wants to abolish Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir.”
According to AIKS general secretary Hannan Mollah, Gujarat wanted to force the Sikh farmers out of their agricultural land to hand it over for real estate speculation. On October 22, 2010, the District Collector of Kutch issued an order freezing the land revenue accounts of the farmers on the pretext that they were ‘outsiders’ in Gujarat and stopped the mutation of the land. “The farmers are now not able to get any loan from banks, cannot get electricity connections and are not able to sell or lease their land,” said Mr. Mollah.
The farmers went to the Gujarat High Court and a single Bench upheld the State’s decision. The decision of the single Bench was overturned by a larger Bench. The farmers have now come a-knocking at the Supreme Court’s doorstep after the State refused to abide by the second judgement.
Shiromani Akali Dal leader Parkash Singh Badal intervened on their behalf after the High Court turned down the State’s directive. According to SAD leader Naresh Gujral, Mr. Modi told Mr. Badal that there were only 28 Sikh farmers in the area and others were all land-grabbers. Mr. Gujral told The Hindu that SAD did not want to be associated with land-grabbers.
Mr. Bhullar contested this and said Mr. Modi was only referring to the 28 Sikh farmers who had approached the Supreme Court. “If there are only 28 Sikh farmers, then why have they frozen land records of 1,000 Sikh farmers in Bhuj?”
28 Sikh farmers approached apex court after State ignored High Court order ‘We tilled land and grew cotton and wheat, now we’re being called outsiders’
28 Sikh farmers approached apex court after State ignored High Court order
‘We tilled land and grew cotton and wheat, now we’re being called outsiders’