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

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.