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BSF action to grab poor Bengal farmers' land 'arbitrary', affects villagers' life, livelihood

Counterview Desk 

The Border Security Force (BSF) allegedly grabbed the land of two marginal farmers “on orders from above” in January this year in Dinajpur district of West Bengal, yet, despite complaints to the administrative and police authorities, no action has been taken in this regard, says a complaint filed with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairman.
In a plea, based on a finding of a fact-finding team, to the NHRC chairman, Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and national convenor Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), Hooghly, said, the land acquisition “has not complied with the Land Acquisition Act, 1894"; hence it is “illegal grabbing”.

Text:

I want to attract your attention towards the illegitimate restrictions and livelihood violation of the villagers of Dhalgaon village of 1 no Bhatol Gram Panchayat under Raiganj Block and police station in North Dinajpur District of West Bengal by the Border Security Force personnel with ECO company of Poriyal border outpost under 72 battalion BSF
About 1,500 people reside in the Dhalgaon village, where out of the total population about 850 are male and 650 are female. Almost 80 percent of the villagers belong from Muslim Other Backward Class (OBC) and 20 percent from Hindu Scheduled Caste (Dalit) backgrounds.
About 1,800 bigha of cultivable land in the village is located outside the border fencing, which is heavily guarded by the Border Security Force (BSF). In this village there are no government hospitals, no ration shop, only one SSK (Sishu Siksha Karmasuchi) school is situated in this village. There is no secondary and higher secondary school in this village.
The condition of the village road is very bad. Most of the roads in the village are not metalled. Due to the plying of BSF vehicles on the village road, the condition of the road became more deteriorated. There are no irrigation facilities in the village.
Taslim Ali and Mahamuddin Mohammad are two residents of Dhalgaon village. Previously, Taslim Ali resided in the land situated 20 meter distance from the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) Road and in front of fencing gate number 18 of Pariyal Border Out Post. In the year 1989 Taslim Ali and his wife Rejina Khatun bought a total 12.20 satak of land under Dhalgaon Mouza, JL No 11 from Jasera Begum, Md Bellal Sarkar, Buna Khatun, Laila Khatun, Rehena Khatun and Nureja Khatun in consideration of Rs. 4,11,750.
But due to illegitimate and arbitrary restriction by the BSF personnel attached with Pariyal Border Out Post, he moved away from that place and made a house far from the border fencing. Now he runs his family by cultivating different vegetables in that land where he previously resided.
Mahamuddin Mohammad is also the owner of the 0.06 acre land under Dhalgaon Mouza, JL No 11, Khatian No 312. The said land is situated between Parial Border Out Post and the fencing gate number 18 in front of the railing number 1419-1397 and 20 to 75 meter distance from the barbed wire.
Taslim Ali and Mahamuddin Mohammad both run their family by cultivating different vegetables and bananas in their land. On 15 January, 2022 at midnight Border Security Force personnel grabbed the whole land of Taslim Ali and Mahamuddin. BSF personnel buried bamboo poles at the margin of the land and the BSF Battalion number and Border Out Post there. 
They do not allow Taslim Ali and Mahamuddin to enter their agricultural field. From that day, they cannot work in their agricultural field. BSF told them that the area is now under BSF’s jurisdiction and therefore they possessed over those lands and cannot allow anyone to enter in that area.
Taslim and Mahamuddin informed the above stated incident to the Panchayat Pradhan of 1 no. Bhatol Gram Panchayat. Pnachayat Pradhan along with other members went to Pariyal Border Out Post but the BSF personnel did not listen to their words. BSF told them to bring the map of those lands from the Block Land and Land Revenue Office.
When Taslim and Mahamuddin went to the office of the Block Land and Land Revenue Officer, Raiganj and asked for a land map of that area, the officials refused to provide them any map of the bordering areas.
From January, 2022 they cannot enter their field. BSF personnel do not allow them to enter their fields. As they cannot cultivate vegetables in this season their monetary loss is about Rs. 50,000.
Our fact finding team talked with one Gram Panchayat member Prakash Barman. He informed that all villagers know the fact that the owners of those two lands are Taslim Ali and Mr. Mahamuddin Mohammad but BSF personnel by force grab those lands without showing any documentary evidence.
One Md Nasiruddin, aged about 55 years, son of late Abdul Jabbar, a resident of the Dhalgaon village informed our fact finding team that BSF personnel attached with Poriyal Border Out Post, ‘E’ Company, Battalion number 72 put illegitimate and arbitrary restrictions upon the agricultural activities of the villagers. For the last two years villagers cannot cultivate maize crops in their agricultural fields. BSF issued an arbitrary prohibition on the cultivation of the maize crops.
Our fact finding team talked with Madanlal, Post Commander of the Poriyal Border Out Post, ‘E’ Company, Battalion number 72. He informed that if there is any allegation of the villagers, they can file civil suit against them. They have an order from higher authority, so they have taken possession of the land. They do not want any harm to common people.
On 25.07.22, Mr.Taslim Ali and Mr. Mahamuddin lodged written complaints to the Block Development Officer of Raiganj block and the Sub-Divisional Officer of Raigunj Sub-Division and District Magistrate, Uttar Dinajpur. On 26.07.2022 Taslim Ali and Mahamuddin lodged written complaint to the local Bhatol Police Fari (Out Post).
But the on duty police person did not accept the complaint. As the local police did not take any action in this regard, on 02.08.2022 he sent one written complaint on the above stated matter to the Superintendent of Police of North Dinajpur through registered post. 
BSF move to restrict the entry of the victims in their agricultural field has plunged their families into deeper poverty
However, till time no actions were taken by the authority to seek out the matter. The whole process was not complied with The Land Acquisition Act, 1894; hence it is illegal grabbing of land by BSF.
These whimsical actions and arbitrary restriction imposed by the Border Security Force personnel of Poriyal Border Outposts upon the villagers of Dhalgaon is not only challenging their life and livelihood but also violating the Article 21 and Article 19 (1) (g) and 39(a) of the Constitution of India and Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The plight of the villagers and denial of their proper livelihood practices is against the Articles 6 (Right to Work), 7 (Right to enjoyment just and favorable condition of work), 9 (Right to Social Security) and 11 (Right to adequate Standard of living) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) as well as the goal number 8 and 16 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
In all these international instruments, the Government of India is a party and has taken pledge to adhere with. The affected farmers’ family is in poor financial condition. They earn their living from agricultural work but this arbitrary action of the BSF to restrict the entry of the victims in their agricultural field, has plunged their families into deeper poverty.
While the Government of India has been considering implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals within 2030 and where the first goal is to eliminate poverty and eighth goal is to promote sustained inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all, but the agent of the government (here BSF) by restricting the movement of the victim farmers in their agricultural land pushed them and their family members in the face of poverty and snatched their right to decent work.
The non-action of the concerned department after lodging the complaint by the victims before the administration also violates Goal number 16 of the UN SDG for providing access to justice for all. Illegal grabbing of the victim’s land by the BSF is a violation of Article 300A of the Indian Constitution, the right to enjoyment of personal property.
Under the circumstances, I request your urgent intervention in the following matters:
  • The whole process was not complied with The Land Acquisition Act, 1894; hence it is illegal grabbing of land by BSF.
  • The BSF should be careful about the villagers, where they posted.
  • The BSF should be posted at the zero point outside the village area.
  • The whole incident must be investigated by a neutral agency.
  • Block and District administration must take immediate steps for restoration of possession of those above stated lands to Mr. Taslim Ali and Mr. Mahamuddin Mohammad.
  • The BSF and / or district administration of Uttar Dinajpur should provide monetary compensation for the loss that the victim farmers have incurred.
  • Strict action should be taken against the BSF for illegally confiscating the victims’ land. As it is a civic offence, matters should be heard in open court of law.
  • The Block Land and Land Reforms Department, Raiganj immediately take proper steps against the perpetrator BSF personnel who grabbed the victims’ land and imposed illegal restriction to victim farmers to enter their agricultural field.
  • Safety and security of the victims must be ensured.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Whole article is far away from reality.

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