Sikh Farmers Sell Land, Move Out of Gujarat after Attacks by Locals

Reported by

Aditi Patil

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

May 16, 2018

May 16, 2018

Updated on

May 16, 2018

Location of Conflict

Loria

Kutch

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Communal/Ethnic Conflict

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

Households Affected by Conflict

784

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

ha

Starting Year

2010

State

Gujarat

Sector

Land Use

Between 1965 and 1984, the Gujarat government allotted land in Kutchch district to 550 farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. Of these, 390 were Sikhs. Since Kutch was a barren region, bordering Pakistan, with human population less than that of cattle, the Gujarat government had, as a matter of policy, invited ex-servicemen from Punjab and Haryana, largely Sikhs, to settle down here in the aftermath of the 1965 war with Pakistan. Today, more than 6,000 Sikh families are settled in Lakhpat and some territories like Kori Creek and Sir Creek.
On October 22, 2010, District Collector M. Thennarasan issued a notice to 784 farmers that froze the agriculture accounts of outsiders settled in the state. He instructed that under the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Land Act, 1948, mutation of registered documents was not to be carried out until further instruction. This essentially meant that the farmers could not own farmlands, transfer them, purchase or sell land or get bank loans for agricultural process.
Fearing eviction, the farmers first approached the regional officer, who rejected the case. In January 2011, however, the Gujarat high court ruled in favour of the farmers. They argued that the order of the collector is violative of their fundamental rights. The state argued that there is no evidence to prove that these farmers are indeed farmers, but the High Court of Gujarat refused to accept it. This led to the state appealing in the Supreme Court.
Major corporates like Asia Motor Works, Jindal Saw, Solaris ChemTech, Electrotherm, Suzlon, Welspun, Tata Power, Jaypee Cement and Parle have been emerging in the region, and this industrialisation, along with good transport and water infrastructure makes the area lucrative for industries, according to the farmers. They allege that the state government wants to acquire farmland and sell it to industrialists.
In December 2013, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led ruling government defreezed the land records of 52 farmers, succumbing to the pressure of protesting farmers and the need to keep their ally, Akali Dal, satisfied.
In January 2015, the farmers from Haryana and Punjab were allegedly attacked and seriously injured by a group of local farmers in Loria village in Bhuj district. The victims claim this was the second attack in the same month. The attacks inevitably forced many farmers to return to their original hometowns in Punjab and Ganganagar after giving their land on contract farming. Though a final decision has not been taken since the matter is subjudice in the Supreme Court, the bonafides of only 52 farmers have been verified and their land has been defreezed.
Surinder Singh Bhullar, a farmer settled near Bhuj, said that many Punjabi farmers had moved out after selling their land at throwaway prices. "Over the past four years, we have approached every government agency but to no avail. The freeze on our land has not been removed even after the high court ruled in our favour," he said.
In August 2017, the Gujarat high court directed the state to reopen farmers' accounts, while disposing of around 10 petitions filed in 2012.
The appeal filed by the state government in 2012, however, is still pending at the Supreme Court.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Demand for promised land

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand to defreeze the farmers' accounts

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Private

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

Legislations/Policies Involved

Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Land Act, 1948
Section 63 [No transfer of land in favour of a person who is a non-agriculturalist shall be valid]
Saurashtra Gharkhed, Tenancy Settlement and Agricultural Lands Ordinance, 1949
Section 54 [Transfers to non-agriculturists barred]
Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands (Vidarbha Region and Kutch Area) Act, 1958
Section 89 [No sale, mortgage or agreement of transfer shall be valid if made to a person who is a non-agriculturist, or being an agriculturist, cultivates land less than three family holdings]
Gujarat Agricultural Land Ceiling Act, 1960
Section 2(3) [Definition of agriculturist is someone who cultivates land personally]; Section 6 [ceiling on holding of land]
  1. 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.

    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.

  2. 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.

    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.

  3. 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.

    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.

  4. 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.

    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.

  5. 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.

    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.

  6. 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.

    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.

  7. 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.

    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:

Lack of legal protection over land rights

Use of old/outdated laws

Non-implementation of land ceiling laws

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

High Court of Gujarat, Supreme Court of India

Case Number

Letters Patent Appeal 1106/2011, SCA No. 8265 of 2012, Civil Appeal No. 2268/2013

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

The farmers challenged the order of the district collector and the 1973 notification by the revenue department prohibiting transfers before the Gujarat high court. In 2012, a full Bench of the high court held that the provisions of the Land Ceiling Act and the definition of "agriculturist", therein, would override the provisions of any prior law. The Bench further observed that it was not the intention of the legislature to bar any person from another state from holding land in Gujarat so long as they were an agriculturist and that any such prohibition would violate Article 15 of the Constitution of India. In 2017, a single-judge Bench of the high court, following the full Bench judgment, directed the accounts that had been frozen by the collector to be opened. The writ applicants were to be treated as agriculturists within the state of Gujarat even if they were natives of Punjab. The state filed an appeal against the full-Bench judgment before the Supreme Court of India. On July 30, 2012, the Supreme Court directed parties not to create any third party rights. On March 17, 2015, the Supreme Court directed parties to maintain status quo and not to proceed under Section 122 of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Land [Vidarba Region and Kutch Area] Act, 1958. The matter is still pending before the Supreme Court.

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Physical attack

Displacement

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

Farmers from Haryana and Punjab were allegedly attacked and seriously injured by a group of local farmers in Loria village in Bhuj district. The victims claim this was the second attack in the same month. The attacks inevitably forced many farmers to return to their original hometowns in Punjab and Ganganagar after giving their land on contract farming.

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Protests/marches

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

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:

Sikh community

Resources Related to Conflict

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

Image Credit:  

Image Credit:  

Documented By

Text Link

Reviewed By

Text Link

Updated By

Text Link

Edited By

Text LinkLand Conflict Watch
X

Support our work

Your contribution ensures continuity of this crucial project.

As a member, you will get exclusive access to special reports, policy papers and research projects undertaken by Land Conflict Watch and behind-the-scenes interactions with the writers and researchers about their work.
Join Now