Farmers’ protest against land acquisition intensifies

Rajasthan Congress president Sachin Pilot meeting farmers who have dug themselves in trenches in protest against acquisition of their land at Nindar village near Jaipur,

Thirty-three of the protesters, who have dug pits and buried themselves waist-deep in the mud, now start an indefinite fast

An unusual protest by farmers, who have dug pits and trenches and buried themselves waist-deep in the mud to protest against acquisition of their land at Nindar village, 20 km from here, has intensified with 33 of the protesters starting an indefinite fast. Two of them were shifted to hospital when their condition deteriorated.

Housing project

The farmers began the “Zameen Samadhi Satyagraha” on October 2, Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, after their 17-day-long agitation failed to make an impact on the government authorities. The Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) has acquired 1,350 bigha land in the village since 2010 for a housing project despite the land owners refusing to accept compensation.

A meeting of the Nindar Bachao Yuva Kisan Sangharsh Samiti activists with Jaipur Collector Siddharth Mahajan on the issue of fresh survey of the farm land here on Monday remained inconclusive. Women and children have joined the menfolk who have accused the State government of forcibly acquiring the land with inadequate compensation.

Karva Chauth fast

Some women whose husbands had buried themselves at the protest site observed the Karva Chauth fast on Sunday and performed the festival’s rituals by watching the moon through sieves.

Sangharsh Samiti convenor Nagendra Singh Shekhawat told The Hindu that though the JDA Commissioner had earlier agreed to conduct a fresh survey of the land, the district administration was now insisting on getting possession of 150 bighas of the ‘mandir mafi’ (exempted for temples) land for which the JDA had deposited Rs.60 crore in the court as compensation.

‘Faulty survey’

“There are houses built on the mandir mafi land and the villagers are living there. How can we surrender it?” said Mr. Shekhawat. He said the farmers wanted to save their land from forcible acquisition, as the survey was faulty and the compensation was being offered at the rates prevailing in 2010, since when the market prices of land had spiralled.

The Opposition Congress has extended support to the farmers’ agitation. Pradesh Congress president Sachin Pilot visited Nindar on Monday and assured the farmers that it would support their demands for a fresh survey and a reconsideration on whether the land was fit for acquisition for a housing project.

Loss compensation

“Wherever the farmers were divested of their land rights after the BJP came to power in Rajasthan, they have not been compensated for the loss,” said Mr. Pilot. He said it was strange that the State government was not paying heed to the agitating farmers’ plight even after some of them, including women, had started indefinite fast.