Having defeated the enemy forces in the Kargil War, 16 years later, Brigadier Kushal Thakur (retd) is now fighting a new battle, that of the farmers’ right.
Thakur, who was the Commanding Officer of 18 Grenadiers unit of the army during the 1999 Kargil conflict, has been crusading against the low compensation being paid to farmers against the land acquired for four-laning of National Highway (NH) 21.
In a bid to make farmers aware about their rights, Thakur over the past two days has held series of meeting at Aut, Panarsa, Takoli, Nagwain and Jhiri.
Accusing the government of lying to the farmers, Thakur said, “The affected persons will be given only two times the market rate as compensation for their land and not four times as has been repeatedly claimed by the Himachal government.”
A recipient of the Yudh Seva Medal, one of India’s military decorations for distinguished service during wartime, Thakur added that the proposed acquisition of agricultural and commercial land for the widening of NH-21 would cause displacement of a huge rural population, many of them belonging to the vulnerable sections of society. “The government notification dates April 1, 2015, completely ignores the interest of the affected persons and is absolutely anti-farmer,” he alleged.
He said the government was misleading people through false propaganda. “It is infringing upon their constitutional and fundamental rights by denying them fair and just compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement as spelt out in the new Land Bill of 2013 and 2015,” Thakur added.
“Besides, the compensation based on the circle rates is also not in tandem with the inflation rate over the years and is undervalued to evade stamp duty. This will further lower the compensation to be paid to the farmers,” he claimed.
Thakur said rehabilitation and resettlement was an integral and essential component of the new Land Acquisition Bill 2013. “Therefore, it calls for appointment of administrator, commissioner and establishment of a state monitoring committee by the state government to take care of the interests of the displaced and affected persons, as stipulated by the law,” he said.
“Furthermore, the Scheduled Castes and Schedule Tribes are also being denied the benefits of special entitlements under the law. The state government seems to be turning a blind eye and ignoring these fundamental aspects and is playing vote-bank politics with the poor and the innocent,” he alleged.