Posts Tagged ‘Damoh’
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.
The Anna Hazare effect has started showing up, if only one knows how to use it. A social activist of Damoh, a backward district in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh, has used it successfully.
Santosh Bharti has for long been crusading against illicit tree felling, illegal mining, illegal grant of favours to the chosen few and other forms of corruption and had dragged the State government many a time to the High
Court and the Supreme Court. Travels to Jabalpur (High Court) and Delhi (Supreme Court) to pursue his cases had naturally been telling on the health of Bharati, who also brings out a Hindi weekly from Damoh.
Last month he collected documents showing massive corruption in the execution of several projects of the water resource department in Damoh district in the past three years and approached the police to lodge an FIR against 15-odd persons, including the then Collector of Damoh, the engineers of the department, the contractors and the minister in charge of the department. The police refused. His pleas to the Damoh Collector and the Superintendent of Police did not help.
Instead of rushing to Jabalpur or Delhi to seek intervention of the judiciary, a cumbersome and lengthy process which the 70-year –old fragile-looking journalist-turned activist had been following earlier, he started an indefinite hunger strike at Damoh. He announced that he would not break his fast till the FIR against the alleged culprits was registered.
The district administration tried to argue its inability to register a case against the minister and the government officials as the government sanction was mandatory for doing so under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Santosh Bharati was not impressed.
It was in the aftermath of the momentous success that Anna Hazare had achieved in Delhi through his fast. The support Bharti received from the people for his fight against corruption made the district administration jittery. Apparently the Collector and the SP did not think that they were equipped to handle the emerging situation on their own.
So, they found a way out. They decided to write to the government for expeditious sanction for registering the case against the accused and defuse the situation. On the fifth day of Bharti’s fast, the police registered an FIR under Sections 420, 467 and 468 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) against some engineers and contractors of the water resource department for misappropriating the government money.
This is perhaps the first time, at least in Madhya Pradesh, that a district police chief has sought expeditious sanction from the government to proceed against a minister and an IAS officer and made his request to the government public. The SP’s letter to Santosh Bharti amounts to accepting, prima facie, the allegations of corruption against the accused. Bharti ended his fast on receiving the SP’s letter.
A free translation of the SP’s letter (in Hindi) of August 30 to Bharti says, inter alia: ‘you have requested in your complaint of August 16 to initiate action against several persons under Sections of IPC as well as of Prevention of Corruption Act for misappropriating crores of rupees of public money. If action is sought against government officials and employees under the provisions of the Madhya Pradesh Prevention of Corruption Act, 1982, Section 39 of the Act provides that no police officer can register a case against them till he receives a direction from the government to this effect.
‘The senior officials of the government have been informed about your complaint with the request to take a decision in this regard at the earliest. The Inspector General of Police and other officials of the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) have also been informed. You submitted another complaint on August 24; that also has been communicated to the senior officials. The officials are posted every day about your fast and the condition of your health. Efforts are being made to expedite the decision in the matter. I (the SP) am also personally keeping in touch over the phone with the senior officials in this regard.
‘The Damoh district administration is trying its best to get the matter expedited. Such things, however, take time. You are a 71-year-old “youth”; your health is very valuable to the society as well as to all of us. You may therefore end your fast on our assurance that the criminal case will be registered against those named in your complaint as soon as the sanction from the government is received.’