Landlords of seven villages in the district's Ghraunda block, who till Wednesday had been claiming that they sown paddy on “disputed” 90-acre land, on Thursday said that people who had got possession of land following consolidation exercise had sown the crop and should harvest it.
Landlords from Keharwali, Lalupura, Arainpura, Amritpura Kalan, Amritpura Khurd, Kalram and Dera Bharatpur villages have been protesting for the past several days, claiming that they had sown paddy on 90 acres. They had been alleging that the rival group and district officials victimised them. The landlords' contention was that landholdings shrunk after the consolidation, and demand investigation into it and action against revenue officials.
On Tuesday, landlords of Lalupura had allegedly damaged properties of the rival group, who alleged that goons had forcibly tried to harvest their crops on Sunday and Monday. To pacify the landlords, Rohtak divisional commissioner Chandershekhar held a meeting with them at the mini-secretariat on Thursday.
After the meeting, farmers' leaders and district officials announced the formation of a peace committee in the area. Leaders Pradeep Kumar and Jagpal Shekhpura told the media that paddy was sown by the other section of farmers and not by them. Shekhpura is a lawyer and arhtiya (commission agent), and claims to be a leader of the India Against Corruption (IAC) from Ghraunda. The Madhuban police have booked him on a charge of instigating villagers to resort to violence.
Since paddy was sown by the other party, they had the right to harvest it, leaders said, adding that they had assured the district administration that no one would create hurdle for the other group in harvesting their crop. They further said that they would take to legal recourse to contest consolidation (which was completed in 1999 and the Supreme Court had in February dismissed petitions challenging the consolidation).
Meanwhile, deputy commissioner Vikas Yadav told the media that of the 2400 acres, 200 acres was left whose possession was to given to owners decided by the consolidation process. He rubbished media reports that harvesting was done in violation of prohibitory orders imposed by the administration in the seven villages till December 14. “The prohibitory orders were issued under Section 144 (unlawful assembly and carrying weapons to maintain order) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and not under Section 145 (dispute concerning land or water is likely to cause breach of peace),” the DC said.
Superintendent of police (SP) Shashank Anand said the investigation was on in Lalupura violence and the matter of Shekhpura being threatened for supporting protesting farmers was being probed into.