Upper-Caste Farmers Allegedly Encroach Land Allotted to Dalit Cooperative in Gujarat

Reported by

Rejitha NairLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

June 24, 2021

Location of Conflict

Jesda village, Rapar tehsil

Kutch

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Caste-Based Conflict

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

698

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

850

ha

Starting Year

2018

State

Gujarat

Sector

Land Use

In 198384, the Gujarat government had allocated around 75,000 acres of surplus land to landless Dalits under the Gujarat Agriculture Land Ceiling Act, 1960. The Rapar Taluka Anusuchit Jati Samudayik Kheti Sahkari Mandali Limited, a cooperative of Dalits of Rapar tehsil in Kutch, were allotted 2,850 acres of land in 1984; however, the land was measured and demarcated and the Mandalis name was entered into the revenue records only in 2018. Though the Mandali is officially recognised as the holder of 2,850 acres, they have only gained possession of around 700 acres** **till date, as told to LCW by Ramji Bhadru, president of the Mandali. The remaining land allegedly is occupied by farmers from the upper caste. The land is officially in the name of the cooperative, and we have been paying revenue tax on the land. However, the uppercaste farmers have been cultivating the land and have refused to hand over possession to the Mandali. They have even challenged the allocation of this land to the Dalits in the High Court of Gujarat. The court passed an interim order directing to maintain status quo and restricting any activity on the land. But the encroachers recently cultivated jeeru (cumin) in complete disregard to the courts order. We have asked the Mamlatdar of Rapar tehsil (authority responsible for agricultural tenanted land) to file a contempt complaint against the encroachers, but nothing has happened so far. Why are they being allowed to cultivate and profit from our land? Bhadru said to LCW. The region is reportedly dominated by Rajputs, and there have been cases in the past where Dalit farmers were killed over land disputes. We need support and protection from the state to take over possession of our land as we fear for our life. The encroachers often threaten, intimidate and beat up the Mandali members. We fear that we will be killed if we try to enter the land, he added. According to Bhadru, the disputed land is wellirrigated with easy access to canals and earnings of about INR 25 crore, so the encroachers will not give it up easily. The Mandali has filed over 25 FIRs and atrocity cases against the uppercaste farmers, which are pending before the District and Sessions Court (Bhuj, Kachchh). The members of the Mandali are socially and economically backward and are living in abject poverty. If we get possession of the land, we can distribute eight acres to each family to cultivate and earn a livelihood, Bhadru added. In 2019, MLA Jignesh Mevani had appealed to the state government to offer protection to 116 Dalit farmers of the Mandali who were facing death threats. Meanwhile, the Mandali has been requesting the Mamlatdar to mediate between the parties and have been voicing their concerns to the state government through campaigns asking for protection. But the farmers have neither received possession of their land nor protection from the state.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for better access to common land/resources, Demand for promised land

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Private

Type of Common Land

N/A

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Land Ceiling Laws, Other, Land Reform Laws

Legislations/Policies Involved

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 allotment and possession of land/property, Forced evictions/ Dispossession of Land

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

High Court of Gujarat; District and Sessions Court (Bhuj, Kachchh)

Case Number

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Physical attack, Threats/intimidation, Killing

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?

Reported Details of the Violation:

The upper-caste farmers often threaten, intimidate and beat up the Mandali members. The region is reportedly dominated by Rajputs, and there have been cases in the past where Dalit farmers were killed over land disputes.

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Campaigns (Grassroots organisations/press releases/media), Complaints, petitions, memorandums to officials

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Mamlatdar of Rapar (authority responsible for agricultural tenanted land); Revenue Department

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:

N/A

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

MLA Jignesh Mevani, Kutch Zamin Wapsi Andolan

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
No Images Available

Documented By

Rejitha Nair

Reviewed By

Rejitha Nair

Updated By

Rejitha Nair

Edited By

Rejitha NairLand Conflict Watch
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