Eviction Orders for Hundreds of Maha-Dalit and Adivasi Families in Bihar Opposed

The Araria district administration in Bihar has issued eviction notices to hundreds of Adivasi and Maha-dalit families. About 500 families have been residing for a very long time in Belgachhi village of Raniganj block who are now facing eviction threat thanks to the callousness of the state government. While opposing this move CPIML MLA from Sikta Virendra Prasad Gupta visited this village on 16 May along with a team of party leaders to express solidarity with the affected people.

The land in question constitutes a large tract of fallow and forest land which was developed and cultivated by the poor decades ago. Since then they have been demanding regularisation of their lands, but in connivance with the local landlords the administration opted to take a route of judicial measures only to delay and frustrate the poor villagers’ genuine demands. These landless were deprived of the benefits of the Land Ceiling Act earlier. By now they would have been given rights over those lands and land tax (Lagaan) would be collected by the government. But this was not done by any government over the decades.

The government rules and regulations regarding rights over the land are in a way tilted against the landless villagers who are not considered as ‘party’ to the land disputes in the judiciary. In most of such cases rights of affected people residing on concerned land for generations are not taken into account by the law and this always goes in favour of erstwhile landlords or land mafia-politician nexus.

In Belgachhi village there is 341 acres of ceiling surplus land which was brought under dispute by a local landlord Chhotan Sheikh and, incidentally, the court passed an order in his favour without considering the fact that this land has been inhabited by the tribals for many generations.

The CPIML has been demanding more strong legislation for people who were not given land rights despite living there for a long time, to curb these loopholes in the existing law.

The Araria and adjoining districts are notorious for illegal occupation of lakhs of acres of lands by the landlord-mafia-politician nexus. In Araria only it is estimated that not less than 3.5 lakh acres of lands have been captured by the rich landlords, these lands otherwise would have been allotted to the deserving landless villagers. This has been CPIML demand for decades to redistribute them among landless. The party has now asked the Mahagathbandhan government to take up this issue on an urgent basis.

The lands of poor and dalits are being captured using judicial loopholes and weak legislation, in Bihar there are other instances where lands are directly taken away from the possession of poor by the landlords. One such case was recently seen in Abdhara village in Patna Rural district. Here around 30 bighas of Bhoodan land that was distributed among the landless 32 years ago is now being ‘claimed’ by the dominant upper caste landlords through ‘legal’ means using various land laws and rules. These elements have acquired ‘legal documents’ against this piece of land and are trying to displace families by force. The role of the administration in such cases generally remains of supporting the landlord lobby in the name of ‘protecting the law’ as well as preserving the law and order! The CPIML leader in Patna Aklu Paswan has said that these villagers will not allow such injustice to happen again and they are organising themselves under the banner of Party. They held a protest meeting on 16 May in the village and decided to challenge the efforts of illegal land capture by all strength.