Punjab: A report on land grab and farmers displacement in Patiala district

August 17, 2015

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A five member team of Association for Democratic Rights, Punjab (District unit Patiala) made a visit to village Hariao Khurd (in Patiala district) and investigated the dispute of land there. It was a large area of barren land, till partition.

The displaced farmers from Pakistan in 1947 came to Punjab and settled on this land. They made it cultivable after decades of hard labor. And now, while this has been turned into a fertile land and is the only source of livelihood for dozens of cultivating families, the greedy land mafia with the connivance of ruling politicians and with the help of twisted court orders is trying to displace the farmers and snatch the land from them. They acquired 125 acre land for govt. sugar mill but handed over to a private business house.They tried time and again to uproot the farmers from remaining 143+73 acre land.

The farmers got organized and resisted Dist. Administration with tooth and nail under the leadership of Bhartia Kisan Union (Ekta-Dakaunda). On August 6th, 2015 the administration once again hatched big preparations and attacked the village on a large scale. They invaded the village with the help of more than one thousand of police force, civil administration, block development and panchayat department staff and 150 officials/employees of Power Corporation. In a large scale operation they sealed houses of more than 60 families, disconnected power supplies for the home and farms, damaged their electric tube wells and electricity transformers, beaten away their cattle. When farmers resisted, they brutally cane charged them, fractured theirs limbs, made arrests indiscriminately, dragged and insulted women brutally and destroyed many houses constructed on the land. The police slapped draconian IPC articles including attempt to murder and attacking the police etc. charges on the arrested leaders and village people and put them in the jail.

This repression was so much brutal that some sections of ruling class parties condemned it. The farmers are on continued struggle including hunger strike in front of deputy commissioner’s office since 7th August and has been entered in to 11th day. The issue is so urgent for the farmers that women and school girls are participating in this struggle in big number.

AFDR team met village people, Kisan Union leaders and Dist. Administration. It investigated all the facts thoroughly. AFDR concluded that the farmers are genuine occupants of the land and it is insolent nexus of administers, ruling politicians and land mafia which is disturbing their peaceful lives and trying to grab this the land.

So AFDR demands:
* Land to be continued by having rent after marginal increase to the farmers.
* The Punjab Govt. should pass a bill to make the farmers permanent owner of the land.
* 125 Acre land given for Sugar Mill should be taken back (as not used for that purpose) and landless S.C.&S.T. people of the village should be allotted residential plots from that land. And grain market be established on remaining land.
* Farmers should be compensated for their loss and damage to their property and crops.
* All false criminal cases should be scrapped and farmers should be released immediately.
* Guilty police and other officials/employees should be charged and punished after proper investigation of the repression on the innocent farmers.

Buta Singh, press secretary, AFDR