iconimg Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Vishal Joshi , Hindustan Times
Karnal, October 11, 2013
After losing their legal battle in the Supreme Court in February this year, residents of several villages in Ghraunda block of the district have urged the Haryana government to order fresh consolidation of lands. Consolidation of holdings refers to amalgamation and redistribution of fragmented land to bring together all plots of land of a cultivator in one compact block.

A section of Kairwali, Amritpiura Kalan, Amritpur Khurd, Lalupura, Arainpura and Kailram villages are holding protests against the consolidation which was conducted in 1999.

They alleged that only a section of influential co-villagers were benefitted from it.
These villages have a total of 3,471 acres land and possession of almost 80% land has been given to the landowners as per the 1999 consolidation.

According to the official documents (HT has copies), the consolidation proceedings were started in 1966 when Haryana was carved out of Punjab and it was soon stalled after certain villagers approached the court against it.

The petition was set aside by the Punjab and Haryana high court in 1986 and fresh consolidation was ordered.

The district revenue authorities prepared division scheme on February 8, 1995, and it was challenged in the courts.

In May 1999, the consolidation was completed and land was given to the shareholders.
Passing its order on March 2, 2010, on a bunch of petitions challenging the consolidation of 1999, the high court dismissed the same.

The high court order was challenged in the SC but it was dismissed on February 5 this year.
Meanwhile, the villagers are up in the arms and do not want to part with the extra land in their possessions for decades.

“Certain villagers colluded with the revenue officials and got more share during the division of land. Officials favoured the influential villagers and gave them more valuable lands whereas a number of villagers' land was allotted in scattered areas,” alleges Rula Singh.

Rajbal Singh, another farmer from Lalupura village, demanded that the state government should investigate the entire consolidation and also probe the shady working of various district officials since 1999.

Immediate cause

According to the district officials, the villagers and allotees as per the consolidation are at loggerheads to take possession of about 200-250 acres land.

Paddy was sown by the old and new landowners, who wanted to harvest paddy on the village land.

On Thursday, the district administration had announced to a form a committee to find an amicable solution.

Villagers have agreed and said that they would wait till Sunday and then next course of action would be decided.

However, situation on Friday was peaceful and no extra police force was seen deployed in the area.


Official take

Deputy commissioner Vikas Yadav said that after the Supreme Court's decision, consolidation was not possible.

“But still, the state government may take a final call as it is not in the jurisdiction of the local administration. We are maintaining a close watch on the situation,” he said.

Political turn

The villagers' agitation is turning into a political movement. When a Hindustan Times team visited Lalupura village on Friday afternoon, Jagpal Shekhpura, a local leader of India Against Corruption (IAC) also reached on the spot and started motivating the villagers to go to New Delhi for protests.

When asked about the role of IAC, the villagers denied that the politician had any role in their movement.

Shekhpura is an arhtiya (commission agent) at Ghraunda grain market and son of a former leader of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD).

Shekhpura asked the women and children to pick sticks and urged the HT team to take note of the agitating villagers and take photographs.

For the past two months, he is leading the farmers' protest in Karnal.

Pardeep Kumar, a village leader, said that a cow protection activist Gopal Das would come to Lalupura in their support and the aggrieved farmers would intensify their agitation.

Though he confirmed that villagers would soon go to Delhi to register their protest but refused to share the date and venue of their protest in the national capital.