The panchayat and residents of Karah Sahib village in this district have blamed Sikh bodies for giving the land issue at Kupia Plot locality a religious colour.
Villagers said the panchayat had leased out land to Sikh farmers but it never intended to give them its (land) ownership rights.
Nearly 150 Sikh families of Kupia Plot in the village have claimed that they had been evicted from land that they had been cultivating for the past 60 years. Following an order of the Punjab and Haryana high court in 2010, Sikh farmers had to hand over the possession of 378 acres to the administration to be given it back to the panchayat.
For the past 10 days, political leaders from Punjab and Haryana, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) had been supporting affected families.
Villagers, however, have termed it undue interference by political and religious bodies. "It is unfortunate that the execution of high court's order is being seen as harassment of the minority community. It is a simple matter. Those tilling panchayat land were neither paying any lease amount nor ready to vacate it," sarpanch Dayal Singh told Hindustan Times on Monday.
"The high court had termed the possession of land by Sikh farmers illegal. It is unfortunate that the issue is being given a religious colour or termed oppression of the minority community," the sarpanch said.
'ILLEGAL POSSESSION CAN'T BE JUSTIFIED'
Molu Ram, who had filed the case in 2007, said any undue interference in the case would be dealt legally. "The panchayat land was given on lease but occupants did not pay even a single rupee for decades which could have been used for the development of the village. In spite of non-payment of lease amount, various organisations are demanding that land's ownership should be given to them," he said.
The litigant said the court had imposed a fine of Rs. 70 lakh for illegally occupying cultivable land. "How one can justify illegal possession of a public land by a few people? As per rules, no land can be leased out without the consent of the panchayat and any attempt to interfere in the case amounts to the contempt of court. I will oppose it with the help of villagers," he added.
AFFECTED FARMERS' TAKE
Farmers of Kupia Plot said they want waiver of the penalty imposed on them with an assurance of getting land's lease. Jassa Singh, who is in his late 80s, said: "I, along with several other families from Kaakkra village near Tarn Taran district in Punjab, had converted the area into a fertile land. Now, after almost 60 years, we have lost land and nowhere to go," he added.
Another villager Bhola Singh said the state government must take a humanitarian look at the issue. "A farmer without land will be unable to marry his children in respectable families," he said, adding that "it is a known fact that we are tilling land since long. All of a sudden, we are on road. If we are not supported by Sikh bodies and Shiromani Akali Dal, we would have been dying."