The Punjab Police NRI wing had to gather a 100-strong task force around a farmer on Wednesday to protect him from hostile Akalis while he harvested wheat on 14 acres at Badhni Kalan village in Moga district.
Mobilised from three police stations, the force cordoned the field to prevent members of the state’s ruling party from carrying out their threat of violent takeover of the land that belongs to non-resident Indian Nirmal Singh, who lives in Toronto, Canada, and which the farmer ploughs on contract.
On Tuesday, NRI wing inspector general of police Gurpreet Deo had instructed the Moga senior superintendent of police to look into the farmer’s complaint that Akalis had told him to abandon the land and its standing crop to them. Confirming the development, deputy superintendent of police Gurcharan Singh Goraya told HT on telephone from Moga that: “Crop harvested, the matter stands resolved.”
He was reluctant to explain why the police had taken no action against the hostile men led by one Mohinder Singh of the nearby village of Lalto Kalan, who enjoyed the patronage of Kuldeep Singh, former Akali sarpanch of Choorhchakk. The duo is under trial for an alleged attempt to grab this land by fraud, and has once taken it under possession.
On Wednesday morning, the police called Mohinder Singh to the Badhni Kalan police station to not let him near the field under harvest. “The man’s nephew, however, got there with his associates in six vehicles,” contractual farmer Jagjit Singh Rania told HT on telephone. The police, who didn’t allow the local press photographer to shoot the scene, now seek a formal written complaint against Mohinder Singh and other intimidators, which Rania is afraid to lodge. He has been farming the NRI’s land for more than a year now. Land owner Nirmal Singh had to fly down to Punjab thrice last year to file a case after correcting the revenue record from which his name had been omitted fraudulently.
An NRI murder earlier this month
On April 14, a Canada-based NRI was gunned down while harvesting his wheat crop at Kaliye Wala village, 20 kilometres from Moga.
Victim Harinder Singh Sran, 46, of Winnipeg in the Manitoba province was a Canadian citizen for the past 25 years and had got back the possession of his land recently. Like fellow Canadian Nirmal Singh, he also had got his land revenue record corrected after his relatives had made illegal mutation papers to dispossess him.