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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

Missing farmer surfaces, says he contacted IAC activists

Pradip Kumar Maitra, Hindustan Times  Nagpur, October 19, 2012
First Published: 20:09 IST(19/10/2012) | Last Updated: 23:14 IST(19/10/2012)

Gajanan Ghadge, the farmer from Khursapar village near Purti Sugar and Power Ltd, on Friday admitted that he had approached India Against Corruption (IAC) activist Anjali Damania over telephone and requested her to take up the "land grabbing" issue.

IAC team had cited Ghadge's case as an example to level charges of land grab by Purti Group, promoted by the BJP national president Nitin Gadkari.

Ghadge went missing since Wednesday over 'threats' after his name was mentioned by the IAC activists Arvind Kejriwal and Anjali Damania at a press conference in Delhi.

In a mobile phone conversaation from an undisclosed location with Hindustan Times, Ghadge -- the former deputy sarpanch of Khursapar -- said that Damania met him on October 13 at his residence.
 
She verified his documents regarding land acquisition by the irrigation department and illegal transfer of excess land to Purti group.

"She (Damania) assured me that the IAC would get us justice and even invited me to attend the Wednesday press conference at Delhi," he added.

Ghadge could not make it to Delhi as he had to be in his village for harvesting of soyabean at his farm.

"I am still disturbed over the development that instead of returning the agriculture land to its original owners, the excess land was given to a so-called NGO, Purti Sinchan Kalyankari Sanstha," Ghadge said.

He claimed to have raised the issue before the then chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh immediately after the land was handed over to Purti in 2007. But the government did nothing about it.

"How can we allow such anti-people action by the government?" Ghadge asked. Without naming Gadkari, he said, "Powerful people are making farmers' life miserable."

According to him, the Purti officials tried to harass him for returning the land on many occasions.
"I still cultivate the land that was illegally given to Purti Sinchan Kalyankari Sanstha," he said and asserted that he would not allow Purti to grab his land.
 
"If Purti people again dare to harass me on the particular piece of land, I will approach Gadkari and seek his help," he said.

However, he made it clear that neither Gadkari nor Purti officials tried to contact him nor pressurize him for changing his statement or giving any anti-Kejriwal statements in the wake of the controversy.

"If Kejriwal and his team work for the people, it is good. But they should not bargain out of it," he added.

The Ghadge family, comprising two brothers - Vishwanath and Gajanan - and a sister Asha, jointly owned 87 acre land which was acquired by the irrigation department in 1981 for Rs. 6,000 per acre to build the Wadgaon irrigation dam near Khursapar village. Of this, 17-acre remained unused which he acquired on lease from the irrigation department after the dam was constructed in 1997. 

The family continued to cultivate the land until 2010, when he and his elder brother, Vishwanath went to pay the lease rent and were told that the amount had been already paid by Purti group to which the land was allotted. After this, he submitted an application to get the land back but to no avail.

"I left my home on Wednesday and preferred to stay at an undisclosed place because of media and other perceived pressure," he justified and said he is planning to return home by Saturday.

Manoj Sharma, the superintendent of police (SP), Nagpur district said that they have not received any complaint from the Ghadge family either about Gajanan going missing or any other matter so far.


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