Punjab's Dalits Launch Organised Struggle for Ownership over Nazool Land in Sangrur

Reported by

Jyotsna Singh

Published on

October 23, 2016

October 23, 2016

Updated on

October 23, 2016

Location of Conflict

Balad Kalan

Sangrur

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Caste-based Conflict

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

12000

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

6646

ha

Starting Year

2014

State

Punjab

Sector

Land Use

Since 2014, marginalised Dalit farmers in over a hundred villages in Sangrur district in Punjab, have been agitating to secure land rights and stand against repressive agricultural practices in the district. In their ongoing struggle, their demand for agricultural land has manifested in the form of gaining control over nazool land. Nazool land is meant to be leased to the Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Castes for cultivation. The Nazool Lands (Transfer) Rules, 1956, define nazool land as land situated beyond two miles of the municipal limits, which has been transferred to the state government and has not already been appropriated by it for any purpose. Other than nazool land, the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1961, reserves 33 percent (onethird) of panchayat land for Dalits, who can acquire it on lease through a yearly auction. The three primary demands of Dalit farmers in Sangrur are elimination of dummy Dalit candidates put up by rich landlords and wealthy peasants; selling the land to be auctioned to Dalits instead at a nominal price; and providing security of tenure over lands delineated for them. The struggle for land rights by Dalits was launched in 2014 with an initiative taken by socially conscious youths belonging to the Punjab Students Union and Naujawan Bharat Sabha. It began with the forcible capture of seven acres of nazool land by peasants in Sekha village (now in Barnala district but was part of Sangrur district in 2014). To strengthen the struggle, Zameen Prapti Sangharsh Committee (ZPSC) was formed in February 2014 after a conference of Dalit and small peasants from the Jat community in Badrukhan village. Notably, the movement witnessed leadership and participation by large numbers of Dalit women too. According to an independent report by Janhastakshep, on May 24, 2016, the district administration mobilised a huge police force in the event of a land auction in Balad Kalan village. When farmers and members of the ZPSC protested, staging a dharna, the police resorted to lathicharge and reportedly fired shots in the air to intimidate the protesters. The next day, the police filed an FIR against 79 people. Along with their agitation for land rights, the ZPSC members also demanded that cases against some of their leaders be withdrawn and the policemen responsible for lathicharge be held accountable.
As per a report in 2019, a village committee was formed to cultivate 120 acres of land owned by 133 Dalit families in Balad Kalan.
On January 25, 2020, the state government amended the law on common property lands, which paved the way for businesses and industries to purchase property on common land in Punjab. The Dalits saw this move as a threat to their livelihoods. However, according to a report in July 2020, the Dalits have managed to reclaim 2,800 acres of land in 57 villages across the state with their struggle.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Demand for promised land

Complaint against procedural violations

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Land Reform Laws, Other

Legislations/Policies Involved

Nazool Lands (Transfer) Rules, 1956
Rule 3(b): [In villages where available nazool land exceeds 10 acres, the land may be allotted to members of Schedules Castes individually and preference must be given to individuals of Scheduled Castes who are already cultivating such land]; Rule 3(d): [In villages where nazool land has not been allotted and no person is available under Rule 3(a-c), the land will be sold in a restricted auction among Scheduled Castes who do not own more than 10 acres of land]
Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1961
Section 5: [Shamlat lands vested in panchayat must be used or disposed of by the panchayat for the benefit of the inhabitants of the village concerned]; Section 13: [Civil courts do not have jurisdiction over any matter arising out of the operation of this Act]
Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Rules, 1964
Rule 6(1): [Lease of shamlat lands will be by auction]; Rule 6(2): [One-third of shamlat land is reserved for giving on lease by auction to members of Scheduled Castes]; Rule 6(2)(a): [The auction shall be subject to the approval of the panchayat samiti]; Rule 6(10): [The lease auction programme must be publicised 15 days before the date of auction, specifying the land to be auctioned, date, time and place]
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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Delay in allottment and possession of land/property

Lack of legal protection over land rights

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Case Number

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Arrest/detention/imprisonment

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Reported Details of the Violation:

When farmers and members of the ZPSC protested, staging a dharna, the police resorted to lathicharge and reportedly fired shots in the air to intimidate the protesters. The next day, the police filed an FIR against 79 people.

Date of Violation

May 24, 2016

Location of Violation

Balad Kalan village

Nature of Protest

Development of a network or collective

Protests/marches

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Government of Punjab, Panchayats of affected area, Police

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Land Owners

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

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Documented By

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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Edited By

Text LinkLand Conflict Watch
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