Tribals deprived of land in ‘Swarnim’ Madhya Pradesh
Posted October 1, 2011on:
Miracles are happening in Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s ‘Swarnim’ (golden) Madhya Pradesh. One such miracle took place at Sagoni Kalan village in Damoh district. A piece of government land, which a few Scheduled Tribe (ST) families have been cultivating (unauthorisedly?) for over 40 years and had eventually been allotted to them by issuing ‘pattas’ (ownership rights), has suddenly become private land with the retrospective effect and the ST families have been asked to vacate it.
As the government was treating these ST families as ‘encroachers’ on the government land, the revenue department of the State government was levying penalty on them and issuing proper receipts. One such receipt (No. 4158) for a penalty of Rs 30 was, for instance, issued by the office of additional tehsildar (Damoh) S.K.Shrivastava in the name of Sahab Singh of Sagoni Kalan village on 30/10/81. Another receipt (No 125) for Rs 100 was issued by the office of naib tehsildar (Damoh) on 29/7/98 in the name of Param of Sagoni Kalan. Yet another receipt (No. 3573) for Rs 200 (for the ‘arrears of penalty’) was issued by the naib tehsildar’s office on 20/11/2009 in the name of Mulayam Athya of Sagoni Kalan.
Contradictory developments in respect of the land were going on simultaneously during the 1980s and the 1990s, reflecting a lack of coordination or sheer confusion in the minds of those ruling the State from Bhopal and the staff in the field. The government was issuing notices to the ST families telling them that they were occupying the government land unauthorisedly and, as such, why they should not be evacuated. Simultaneously, the government was going ahead, though at a snail’s pace, for allotment of pattas over the land to them.
On 6/3/1998, the court of the naib tehsildar, Damoh, passed an order under the relevant section of the Madhya Pradesh Revenue Code, 1959, imposing a fine of Rs 1000 on Sahab Singh of Sagoni Kalan for unauthorised occupation of the government land and ordering him to deposit the amount and vacate the land by 30/3/98. The notice also informed Sahab Singh that if he failed to comply with the order by the prescribed date, he would be forcibly removed from the land, his belongings would be confiscated and the expenditure incurred by the government on his evacuation would be realised from him in the form of the land revenue.
A similar proceeding against Sahab Singh was held in 1995, too. The court of naib tehsildar (Damoh) had passed an order on 2/2/95 imposing a penalty of Rs 1500 on Sahab Singh for unauthorised occupation of the government land and directing him to appear in the court on 16/2/95 to reply to the charge. Param was, similarly, issued a notice by the court of naib tehsildar on 13/7/98 to appear in the court on 22/7/98 to show cause why the maximum penalty should not be imposed on him for occupying unauthorisedly the government land and that why he should not be removed from the land.
Earlier in 1984, the court of naib tehsildar, Damoh, was holding the proceedings for allotment of pattas to the ST families. The court, for instance, made a ‘Proclamation’ on 20/3/84 informing all the village people in general (sarva-sadharan grameen Janata) that Sahab Singh of Sagoni Kalan village had moved an application for allotment of patta over 6 acres of land (as specified) claiming that the land had been in the possession of his family from his grandfather’s time; that if anyone had any objection to this, he could file the objections in this court by 30/4/84; and that thereafter no objection would be entertained.
All this has been narrated, on the basis of the scanty documents the poor, illiterate tribals have preserved, to show that the government has all along claimed the ownership of the land, whatever its attitude to the tribal families occupying it. But suddenly one afternoon after the Jabera Assembly by-election, the patwari of the area escorted by policemen reached the place, made a show of measuring the land and declared that the Survey No. 41 of 1985-86 showed that the land belonged to Gulabchand Jain who had sold it to Rameshwar and Jagdish Lodhi in 2007-2008 and had been in their possession since then.
Jagdish Lodhi is said to be related to Dashrath Lodhi who had wrested the Jabera seat from the Congress by defeating Tanya Solomon, daughter of Ratnesh Solomon, whose death had caused the by-election.
Four members of the affected tribal families, Gangarani (w/o Param), Bhuvani Athya (w/o Mulayam Athya), Sahab Singh (s/o Nannu) and Mangal Singh (s/o Sadhu Singh) lodged on July 4 a complaint at the police post Imlia Ghat under Tejgarh police station about the conspiracy between private persons and officers of the revenue department to deprive them of the possession of the land which they had been occupying for over 40 years and had even been given pattas. The in-charge of the police post, however, registered it as a non-cognizable offence only.
The aggrieved tribals have since appealed to the higher authorities, including the Superintendent of Police, the Director-General of Police and the chief minister. Justice in the ‘Swarnim Madhya Pradesh’ still eludes them.