Updated: December 15, 2020, 8:45:25 pm
A group of farmers in Kutch, originally from Punjab and Haryana, who settled here, are involved in a legal battle with the Gujarat government over their agricultural land. The dispute dates back to 2010 when many farmers were told that records on their land had been frozen because they were not from Gujarat. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the Prime Minister at the time.
On Tuesday, PM Modi interacted with farmers in Kutch, including those from Punjab, during his visit to the border district to lay the groundwork for several projects.
Who are the farmers fighting for land in Kutch?
A group of around 60 farmers from Kutch have been fighting a lawsuit for the past decade to preserve their agricultural land. Most of these farmers are natives from Punjab and Haryana who either bought land or received it through state allotment. However, since they were not local Gujaratis, the state government has frozen records of land owned by them and around 700 other farmers in Kutch. Of the total of 784 farmers whose land registry entries were frozen, 245 come from Punjab and Haryana. The rest come from Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Most of them are Sikhs.
How did you get to Kutch by chance?
During the India-Pakistan War of 1965, the Pakistani army managed to invade Kutch. After the war, however, Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shashtri suggested settling border areas in the district to make the border safer. The government has incentivized settlement in Kutch by allocating land and spending cash to help them purchase oxen, etc. In response, significant numbers of families from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra came to Kutch. The state government allocated a total of 550 people between 1965 and 1984. Of these, 390 were Sikhs, some of whom had come to Punjab after the partition. They began using the groundwater to irrigate their crops in Kutch and started an agricultural revolution in this semi-arid area. Relatives and friends of these early migrants followed because the land in Kutch is abundant (Kutch covers 45,000 square kilometers, making up 23 percent of the total geographic area of Gujarat) and is comparatively cheap. 📣 Follow the express explained in the telegram
What did the Gujarat government do in 2010?
On October 22, 2010, the Kutch collector sent notices to 784 farmers telling them that records on their land were frozen because they were not allowed to hold land in Gujarat because they were not from Gujarat. The government cited a 1973 circular stating that only indigenous Gujaratis were allowed to purchase agricultural land in the state. The freezing of records on their land meant that the owners of such land could neither sell it nor transfer it through mutation records on behalf of their heirs. Also, Forms 7-12 and 8-A were provided with records of such properties with drivers, so their owners were not eligible for bank loans, etc. In short, the freezing meant that no third party interest could be created in the property. The 784 land accounts included those to which the government had allocated land. Land registrations of 52 farmers who had documentary evidence that they owned legally government-allocated land were later frozen.
Where is the dispute now?
The matter reached the Gujarat High Court (HC) after courts of the tax authorities. In July 2011, a single judge bank of the HC ruled in favor of the state government, but the farmers challenged this judgment before a larger bank of the court. In June 2012, the larger HC bank decided in favor of the farmer. Therefore, in 2012 the state government turned to the Supreme Court with a request for special leave and prayed that no third party interest in the country concerned should be created. The SC granted this prayer. However, the government’s petition against the Gujarat HC ruling is still pending.
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