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New Land Laws in Karnataka Will Hurt Farmers Most, Left Parties Say

The new amendments remove earlier restrictions on companies acquiring agricultural lands in the state.
New Land Laws in Karnataka Will Hurt Farmers Most, Left Parties say

Left parties hold protest in Bengaluru

Bengaluru: On August 24, left parties gathered at Freedom Park to demand the rollback of new land laws. They argued that the new laws have opened up the agricultural sector, dairy, meat and leather industries to the looting of corporate companies. The laws in question are - The Karnataka Land Reforms (Amendment) Act 2020, APMC (Amendment) Act 2020 and Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Act, 2020.

The earlier provisions in the law prevented persons or companies from purchasing agricultural land if their annual income (from non-agricultural sources) exceeded Rs 25 lakh. Those provisions have now been struck off.

The Karnataka Land Reforms (Amendment) Act 2020 brings an amendment to the principal act, i.e. the Karnataka Land Reforms Act 1961. Any person, company or religious institution can now purchase agricultural land. These clauses have also been given a retrospective effect, i.e., it has been deemed that they are effective from March 1, 1974, so all pending legal disputes with respect to these struck-off sections can be immediately disposed of. The opposition has previously objected to this, saying that it primarily benefits the land mafia in Bengaluru.

Sathi Sundaresh, state secretary of the Communist Party of India believes that prohibition on cattle slaughter will hurt dairy farmers as well as dalits and Muslims.

He said, "this law ensures that dairy farmers cannot dispose of unproductive cattle. They will be stuck with the burden of feeding these animals. The primary goal of this law is to hurt the livelihood of Muslims, who are mostly involved in the meat and tannery business. However, they are also hurting other communities in the process. Recently, we saw a case in Hassan district where a dalit man was assaulted for transporting cattle."

Earlier this week, in Sakleshpur town, Hassan, a dalit man named Manjunath was assaulted by members of the Bajrang Dal on suspicion of transporting cows for slaughter. Manjunath had purchased cattle from a farmer for the purpose of dairy farming. When he was transporting the cows to his home in a goods vehicle, he was stopped by Bajrang Dal members. Manjunath alleged that he was assaulted when he refused to produce documentation or permits for transporting the cattle. Following this incident, hundreds of Ambedkarite activists descended on Sakleshpur town on August 22 and demanded action against the accused.

Manjunath addresses the rally in Sakleshpur which was held in solidarity with him
Manjunath addresses the rally in Sakleshpur which was held in solidarity with him.

NewsClick has previously reported how the new cattle slaughter law adversely affected Muslims as well as the Tannery industry in Karnataka.

The left activists also alleged that the new Karnataka Water Policy 2022 is a tool to privatise drinking water and irrigation and to collect expensive bills by installing meters. Further, the BJP government in Karnataka has passed the Protection of Religious Freedom Ordinance, which prohibits forced religious conversion. This ordinance has been seen as a legislative tool to prevent inter-religious marriages, especially between Muslim men and Hindu women.

Participating in the protest were the state unit members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) - CPI(M), Communist Party of India - CPI, Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) - SUCI(C), Communist Party of India (Marxist, Leninist – Liberation) - CPI(ML), All India Forward Bloc - AIFB, Republican Party of India - RPI, Swaraj India party.

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