Skip to main content

Mystery around "missing" 52,000 acres deepens as Gujarat's bhoodan committee declares it has no land

By Rajiv Shah
Six months after the Gujarat High Court judgment sharply criticizing the state government and the Gujarat Sarvodaya Mandal (GSM), also known as Bhoodan Samiti, for failing to oversee what happened to thousands of acres of land received during the Bhoodan movement of Vinoba Bhave, a top GSM insider has declared that as of today it has “no land.”
Participating in a well-attended civil activists’ meet in Ahmedabad at Janpath, the apex body of Gujarat-based NGOs, Anand Mazgaonkar, who is closely associated with the top environmental NGO, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, and is an adviser to the National Alliance of People’s Movement, has been quoted as saying, “It is true that during Vinoba’s bhoodan movement, 1.02 lakh acres of land was received as donation from the state’s landlords.”
Of this, he informed the participants, 51,000 to 52,000 acres land was distributed among the landless. However, the situation, he opined, has changed considerably since 1950s when the land was distributed, as large number of rural areas have become urbanized.
“However”, he insisted, “The Gujarat government did not come up with any law with regard to the bhoodan land, as it existed in the Saurashtra State before Gujarat came into existence in 1960, or in the then Vidarbha State of Maharashtra. Hence, the GSM is not in legal possession of any land. As of today, it has no land.”
Mazgaonkar explained, “Two or three generations have passed since then. This has created a number of problems in identifying as to who owns the bhoodan land. The Gujarat High Court, in its order dated December 29, 2016, has identified three types of owners: Successors of the original owners, those who received the land, and illegal encroachers.”
“The magnanimous sacrifices of lands made by the original land owners in the bhoodan yagna appear to have gone in vain” -- Gujarat High Court
Mazgaonkar's statement, quoted in minutes of the activists' meeting, comes against the backdrop of the Gujarat government beginning inquiry, through a high-level committee under the chairmanship of the chief secretary, to ascertain lands which still remain undistributed and unaccounted for the alleged "mismanagement of the bhoodan samitis", on one hand, and indifference of the state government, on the other.
The high-level committee was formed on February 2, 2017, after the High Court order directed the state government to do the investigation.
Significantly, Mazgaonkar spoke of having "no land" even as a GSM report, submitted to the High Court in 2013, admitted that total lands admeasuring 103,530 acres were received during the bhoodan movement, which land admeasuring 52,546 acres still remains undistributed.
The High Court order, delivered by Justice Bela M Trivedi, wondered, “Should the avowed and laudable object of the bhoodan movement spearheaded by Acharya Shri Vinoba Bhave be allowed to be frustrated, and the sacrifices of lands made by the land owners in the bhoodan yagna for the benefit of landless persons be allowed to go in vain, on account of the lethargy and mismanagement of bhoodan committees, and the apathy and inaction of the state government?”
Even as criticizing the Gujarat government for not enacting “any law to facilitate, regulate, distribute and monitor such lands donated in the bhoodan yagna” on lines of several Indian states, the order said, “The magnanimous sacrifices of lands made by the original land owners in the bhoodan yagna appear to have gone in vain.”

Comments

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Critics of your government should not be in jail: PUCL shoots open letter to Modi

Counterview Desk In an open letter, Ravikiran Jain, national president, and Dr V Suresh, general secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) have taken strong exception to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s view that raising human rights issues can ‘tarnish’ the country’s reputation, stating, those who raise human rights concerns do it “through established United Nations mechanisms such as the UN Human Rights Council, the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights.”

When judges behave more like priests, delivering sermons from high podium...

By Ajit Singh*  The theory of separation of power found its origins in ancient Greece but with the passage of time it became widespread in other parts of Europe. Early proponent of the theory Greek philosopher Aristotle in “Politics” argued that implementation of constitution in letter and spirit can only be possible if the three elements among whom the power has been distributed are well arranged.

'We are scared to even raise our voice': Delhi sewer workers tell roundtable

By Our Representative  A roundtable attended by more than 100 sewer workers in Delhi, saw sharp voices against the contract system, poor wages and lack of any social benefits. Organised by the Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM), which has refused to reveal the identity of the sewer workers who spoke on the occasion for fear of retaliation from the authorities, saw workers complain that have been working for more than 10 years, hoping that someday they would be made permanent.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Muck being thrown in Uttarakhand rivers: Villagers face 'existential' crisis

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  The Uttarakhand government must act fast to clear the path of Dhauli Ganga river about two kilometres ahead of village Neeti and about one kilometre from Ghamsali village, which is about 90 kilometer from Joshi Math town in district Chamoli. The creation of an artificial lake due to throwing of muck and mud can create a catastrophic situation like what happened on February 7, 2021-- the Rishi Ganga-Dhauli Ganga tragedy at Tapovan and Raini village in which over 200 people lost their life.

How Indore turned into water minus city after authorities 'managed' Water Plus title

Water harvester cleaning up hyacinth from an Indore river By Rahul Banerjee*  Recently, the city of Indore was declared the first Water Plus city in India under the Swachh Sarvekshan programme of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development for its ostensibly exemplary waste water management. However, the reality is quite different as a detailed study of the prevailing wastewater management situation in the city shows.

UP govt 'ignoring' demand to fill up teachers' posts despite unemployment: Rights groups

Sandeep Pandey with Shikha Pal Counterview Desk  Commenting on the unique protest undertaken by Shikha Pal atop an overhead water tank for nearly four months, the Socialist Party (India), in association with several civil rights group, Yuva Shakti Sangathan, Socialist Yuvjan Sabha and Rihai Manch, have wondered why has the Yogi Adityanath government is so “insensitive” towards her demands and is looking the “other way.”

Restricting use of public places for religious purpose: Will Gehlot govt respect HC order?

By Kavita Srivastava*  The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Rajasthan, has welcomed the judgment of the Rajasthan High Court dismissing the petition by Pooja Gurnani which challenged a circular of the Rajasthan government which restrained the construction of a ‘Pooja Sthal’ in the premises of a police station.

Rehabilitation site 'offered' to 6000 displaced Khori villagers not livable: Team Saathi

By Our Representative  Second round of the Chitthi Andolan (letter movement) of the Khori village residents, whose more than 6,000 houses were demolished as they were allegedly built on forest land, has begun, with hundreds of them telling the authorities of the Municipal Corporation, Faridabad, that no one has received the promised financial assistance of meagre Rs 2,000.