Disillusioned over the dilly-dallying on the part of the land revenue and district rural development and panchayat departments to retrieve the pond land of Jhamat village even after two years and ten months of the court orders, the whistleblower has filed a contempt petition in the Punjab and Haryana high court, Chandigarh.
Encroached pond land of eight kanal and two marlas is a part of the 180-crore land scam of Jhamat village, wherein 18.5 acre of panchayat land was sold off to private entities by the panchayat members in connivance with the officials of rural development, land revenue and consolidation departments.
Following orders of the high court, Chandigarh, in July 2012, former Ludhiana deputy commissioner (DC) Rahul Tewari had conducted a probe and the eviction cases were filed in January 2013.
The eviction cases were filed against Gurcharan Singh, Tarishan Singh, Shamsher Singh, former sarpanch Sukhpal Singh's wife Harbans Kaur, Ishar Singh, Gurcharan Singh, Balbir Singh, Shamsher Singh, Sukhpal Singh, Major Singh and Kewal Singh.
The whistleblower, Gurmukh Singh, has knocked every door, including the principal secretary, rural development and panchayats; additional deputy commissioner (development), Ludhiana; and district development and panchayat officers in the past 34 months, but to no avail.
As a result, Gurmukh Singh filed contempt against the district administration in February 2015, following which the Punjab and Haryana high court, Chandigarh, has issued a notice of motion to the district administration, returnable for October 15.
Gurmukh Singh alleged that tehsildar (west), despite getting the possession warrants to retrieve the said village's pond land, has failed to do so. He came up with reasons instead that there was no jamabandi in the patwari's record and that the map was old and not clear, whereas they had submitted every document to the administration and in the court as well, he alleged.
On December 13, 1992, Bhan Singh, sarpanch of Jhamat village for two decades till 1990, and more than 60 other influential people, had filed an appeal in the court of the Punjab consolidation officer that the 18.5-acre land belonged to them.
The case was referred to the consolidation officer of Sangrur and transferred to the consolidation officer in Jalandhar, Harbhajan Singh, in 1994.
The then sarpanch, Sukhpal Singh, refuted the claims of these individuals, but failed to produce any record in defence. The consolidation officer ruled that the land never belonged to the panchayat, giving possession to the 68 claimants.
Five DDPOs since 2010 failed to retrieve the land
Interestingly, ever since HT exposed the Jhamat land scam on August 18, 2010, five district development and panchayat officers (DDPO) have served on the post, but none have succeeded in retrieving the panchayat land. Despite having claimed to have filed eviction cases against 11 individuals in pond land encroachment case at Jhamat village, a part of 180-crore land scam, the department of rural development and panchayats have failed to retrieve two kanal and eight marlas of land even after two years.
Tehsildar causes delay
When contacted, DDPO Jagvinderjit Singh stated that there would be definite action in this case as I have told the tehsildar concerned in front of the deputy commissioner Rajat Agarwal to take possession of the land within 15 days. Even if he has some plea not to take action, I will make sure that he gives it in written, so that we can reproduce it in the court.