Land Grab Cases Filed Against Landless Farmers in Karnataka
Bengaluru: Across the state of Karnataka, several landless farmers have been residing and cultivating crops on land that belongs to the government. They say that they have been living on this land, known as bagair hukum lands, for several generations. Now, the government has filed cases of land grabbing against the farmers. On October 18, more than a thousand farmers, across several districts, arrived at Freedom Park in Bengaluru to demand that the cases be dropped. The farmers were organised by the All India Kisan Khet Mazdoor Sangathan (AIKKMS). Earlier this year, the Revenue Minister, R Ashoka announced that the government would lease out land to people who are residing on bagair hukum (unauthorised) lands.
According to a report in The Hindu, the yearly lease amount would be fixed based on the size of the land - Rs 1,500- 2,000 for one to two acres, Rs 2,000-2,500 for three to five acres, and Rs 2,500-3,000 for five acres and more. The land would be given on a 30-year lease. However, this was not acceptable to the protestors, who demanded that the land be regularised in their favour. They also demanded that the land records must also reflect their ownership.
Among those who addressed the gathering was veteran writer, Allamaprabhu Bettadur. He said, “cultivation on bagair hukum land cannot be classified as land grabbing. When capitalists and companies indiscriminately take over lands, that is land grabbing. Poor farmers have a moral right to demand land. The government has a duty to support and stand by the farmers.”
Members of the AIKKMS union estimate that around 12 lakh farmers in Karnataka have filed applications with the government for the handover of bagair hukum lands to the cultivators.
State President of AIKKMS, HV Diwakar, also supported the transfer of land to farmers. Addressing the gathering he said, “for 70-80 years, farmers have been cultivating government lands. Ownership documents should be distributed among them now. The peasants and farmers who are feeding the nation are being attacked from all sides. Forest Department officials have been seizing these lands or putting meters on the pump sets used by the farmers. The cost of agricultural inputs is already high. But there is no safety net for the landless farmers. Protest is the only option they are left with.”
The protestors reiterated that the government must roll back the leasing policy at all costs. Later in the day, a delegation of protesters was invited to the Vidhana Soudha. An undersecretary in the chief minister's office promised to look into their demands.
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