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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

Farmers hold dharna over land encroachment by mafia

HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times  Lopoke-Chogawan (Amritsar), October 12, 2012
First Published: 19:56 IST(12/10/2012) | Last Updated: 20:06 IST(12/10/2012)

Activists of farmers' organisations protested in Lopoke-Chogawan area of Amritsar district on Friday against the alleged patronage given to the land mafia by the police at the behest of some ruling party politicians here.

The protesters, including farmers and their families, gathered at the office of the deputy superintendent of police (rural) in Chogawan to hold a dharna that lasted for almost three hours. Under threat of eviction from their land holdings by the mafia, the peasants joined farmers' groups in the protest.

The land mafia was allegedly digging out revenue records to uproot families on the grounds that the land they were tilling belonged to the government and their occupation of them was illegal.

"We will not allow even a single family to be uprooted by the land mafia which is supported by the police," Ratttan Singh Randhawa, chairman of Border Area Kisan Sangharsh Committee, said. "This mafia is active along the border areas of Lopoke-Chogawan, Raja Sansi and Ajnala and enjoy the support of two Akali leaders of the area."

The farmers' leaders demanded that the government provide ownership rights to families as had been promised. "We will resist forceful eviction of any family," they said.

The union leaders alleged that an assistant sub-inspector posted in Amritsar and belonging to Ajnala was issuing threats to them, including Jamuhri Kisan Sabha state president Satnam Singh Ajnala, after he came to the rescue of several threatened families. The leaders highlighted a case in Bhindi Saida where a farmer was kidnapped and his two-acre plot of agricultural land usurped by a group close to an Akali leader.

Amritsar rural senior superintendent of police PS Virk reached the site of the dharna and assured action against erring police officials, including the DSP. The farmers demanded that all weapons given to members of the land mafia be confiscated.

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