Twist in Dinakaran land row

Twist in Dinakaran land row

Land issue: Collectors report to SC had inadequate information

Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam and CPM activists being arrested at Tiruvallur on Monday. DH photo

Tucked away between two ancient pilgrim centres, the hillock Murugan temple at Tiruttani and the Shiva Temple at Tiruvalangadu, the ground dynamics is changing rapidly here as a good chunk of OBC landlords pin down the encroachments of about 199.53 acres of “poromboke” (government) lands by the judge to a Revenue Department “blunder.”

Without wishing to embarrass the government on this score, a section of landholders, with whom this Deccan Herald correspondent spoke to on Monday, said the “land retrieval” agitation launched by some farmers’ organisations owning allegiance to the CPM, was “unreasonable and unjustified.”

After the Tiruvallur District Collector recently sent a report to the Supreme Court collegium mentioning that about 199.53 acres of “poromboke” land was the extent to which the alleged encroachment by the judge had taken place, two contentious issues have surfaced, the farmers said.

G Subbarayulu, one of the respected elderly farmers in the village and former vice-chairman of the Thiruvalangadu Panchayat Union, told Deccan Herald that the collector, being somewhat new to the district, had based his report on “information furnished to him and does not know the lands’ pre-history.”

His report to the apex court was based on “inadequate information” and not the entire 200 acres allegedly encroached could be termed “poromboke.”

A good chunk of that land — some 150 acres — belonging to 18 parties in the village and who have inherited those parcels of land from their forefathers, have now “approached the Madras High Court claiming they have property rights” over those lands. They had been termed “anadheenam” lands as they had been in arrears of “kisti” (land revenue) for over ten years. “But now, they are keen to pay the ‘kisti’ and want the lands back;  the title deeds are all ‘pucca’ (clear) as they were all ‘patta’ (private) lands,” he said.

Key issue

The other key issue was that there were other types of “poromboke” lands, like those adjacent to canals, tanks, and a moat in the village, Subbarayalu pointed out. The moat has an interesting history as it was constructed by local chieftain Palakar Naik to keep off enemies some centuries ago. They roughly add up to over 40 acres and the collector has included all those under one rubric “poromboke” lands in his report, he said.

The problem arose as many of those lands came in between and adjacent to the “patta lands” purchased by the judge and his family , the farmers said.

“We also sold some of our lands through brokers and to our knowledge they were all purchased when he (Dinakaran) was a practising advocate in the Madras High Court,” affirmed Subbarayalu.

Since most of the lands at Kaverirajapuram, a rain-fed tract with just two PWD tanks, “are unfit for cultivation, dairying is our main source of income,” other farmers, including G Indrasenan, A Narasimhalu, D Kuppusamy and J Ravi, said, pointing to the cooperative milk society there.

Even though a major chunk of what has been classified now as “poromboke” lands is “anadheenam” lands, “these are primarily grazing lands and we have every right to let our cattle graze there since dairying is our main economic activity,” chipped in Subbarayulu.

The fencing (done by Justice Dinakaran), was a “natural protection to our ‘anadheenam’ lands, to deter others from sending their cattle to graze in our lands and they are not necessarily related to or possessed by the judge,” he emphasised. It was to reaffirm their legal ownership rights that the 18 affected parties of Kaverirajapuram have moved the Madras High Court, he added.

Stating that leaders of the Tamilaga Vivasayigal Sangam, affiliated to the CPI(M), might not be aware of all these details, the OBC farmers said, “at least now they should drop their land reclaim stir.”

While these “startling facts” by the OBC farmers could come as a huge slice of comfort and relief to Justice Dinakaran, officials here say that once “patta” (private) lands being deemed “anadheenam” (special category) lands was not uncommon.

But the final word on its status rests only with the land settlement officer and the commissioner for land reforms (CLR).

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