Swaraj Abhiyan leaders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav launched a protest outside the Delhi Race Course on Sunday, demanding that the site be converted into a memorial for farmers and that a 'Kisan Haat', along the lines of Dilli Haat, should be opened as the land was forcibly acquired.
Swaraj Abhiyan claimed that the land, which was formerly part of Malcha village, had been acquired by the British when they shifted their colonial capital from Calcutta to Delhi.
However, as the land was 'forcibly' acquired by the British, the original inhabitants were only offered a 'pittance,' before being relocated.
"The land was acquired from the farmers under the guise of public purpose and it is now being used by as a gambling den in front of the Prime Minister's House. Is this why land acquisition ordinance is needed? Is this public use?," said party leader Yogendra Yadav.
"Swaraj Abhiyan demands Race Course land be used as memorial for farmers who died in forcible land acquisition in independent India or those who were forced to commit suicides due to discrimination and neglect of agriculture by successive governments," laywer-turned-activist Prashant Bhushan added.
He stated that the remaining space should be used as a 'Kisan Haat' where farmers can come and sell their organic products. Swaraj Abhiayan said the lease of the land expired in 1998, but the land has still not been taken back by the government.
"Delhi Race Club land not taken back by government after expiration. Hints to collusion of public authority with private interests. The Urban Development Ministry served eviction notice to Club on 25 October 1999 but after that public authorities have been lax."
"Delhi Race Club lease expired in 1998 and has not been renewed. Club has been allowed to carry on its operations. Nonetheless Delhi Race Club made a profit of Rs 2.31 crore in the financial year ending 31 March, 2013. It has an odd practice: it charges Rs 4,000 as daily 'Mobile Phone Permission'(Entry Fee of Rs 60 without the phone!)," Swaraj Abhiyan tweeted through its twitter handle.
?????? ??? ???? ?? 31 ????? 2013 ?? ?????? ??? ??????? ???? ??? Rs 2.31 ????? ???? ?? ??? ?????? #JaiKisanAndolan— Swaraj Abhiyan (@swaraj_abhiyan) July 26, 2015
Swaraj Abhiyan said it has given a notice to the Prime Minister regarding this, failing which they will use "peaceful" and "democratic" ways to fulfil their demands, giving a hint that a legal course could be taken in this matter.