Farmers bury themselves, demand higher value for land

Farmers bury themselves, demand higher value for land

"We will continue to hold satyagraha until the reply from the JDA comes," said Nagendra Singh Shekhawat, leader of the Nindar Bachao Yuva Kisan Sangarsh Samiti, who is leading the protest.

In the biting cold in the middle of a farm, situated in Ninder village (20kms from Jaipur), Nagendra Singh Shekhawat (42) and his supporters held a 'Zameen Samadhi Satyagrah', (being buried chest-deep in soil) for the last 72 hours, demanding that their land be acquired as per the revised Land Acquisition Act.

The protesters are against the acquisition of more than 1,300 bighas of land for a housing project and are demanding that state government should implement the amended Land Acquisition Act in the state, which was passed by the Congress government at the Centre and acquire the land as per the Act. The farmers are demanding compensation as per a 2014 law while the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) is offering them land rates as per 2010. 

"We will continue to hold satyagraha until the reply from the JDA comes," said Nagendra Singh Shekhawat, leader of the Nindar Bachao Yuva Kisan Sangarsh Samiti, who is leading the protest.

"Farmers will not let the government acquire the land as per the previous Land Acquisition Act, which was running in the country since the British rule." Besides Shekhawat, four other farmers have dug themselves into the soil and have threatened to go on a hunger strike.

"Two years ago in 2017, they made us call off our protest and sent us to jail but this time, we are not leaving till our demands are fulfilled," Shekhawat told DH. "If the response is positive, then our dialogue with the government will proceed."  

Over the last two years, farmers have repeated this unique form of protest against the JDA after they restarted acquisition on Jan. 1.

Following the protest in October 2017, an agreement was reached between the farmers and the JDA, then under the Vasundhara Raje government. However, soon after, the JDA moved to acquire their land. When they protested, at least five of them were jailed for 10 days.

Meanwhile, on Thursday (the second day of the protest), the health of one of the protesters who buried himself neck-deep in the ground deteriorated but he refused to leave and continued to agitate in Nindar village.

What does the JDA say?

The JDA, in a statement, had said that it would issue allotment letters to farmers affected due to the Nindar Housing Scheme with a mutual understanding. Around 10,000 houses would be built under the scheme, which was announced in January 2011. 

According to Deputy Commissioner Manish Fauzdar, those farmers who have surrendered land for the housing scheme would soon be issued allotment letters and those who have not yet surrendered land would be issued letters with mutual consent.

The JDA has taken possession of 600 bighas of land so far and deposited Rs 60 crore at a local court as compensation after villagers refused to accept the amount, claiming that it did not hold up to the prevailing market rates.

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