As farmers protest, Haryana mulls solution to shamlat land issue ‘within legal framework’

The Haryana government Monday told a farmers’ delegation it was contemplating to find a solution “within the legal framework” to their demand pertaining to the common land (Shamlat Deh) in the wake of a Supreme Court judgment on the issue earlier this year. The government’s assurance came during farmers’ meeting with Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar here.

The farmers have been demanding the government convene a special session to amend the land Act keeping in view the apex court’s judgment in April this year. The shamlat land is kept aside for common use in villages, as part of the Punjab Land Revenue Act, 1887. Other demands put forth by the farmers included those pertaining to crop damage compensation and water-logging.

On Monday, a large number of farmers staged a protest along the Panchkula-Chandigarh border over their various demands. They were demanding ownership rights of the shamlat land to those who have been occupying it for past many decades.

In April, the Supreme Court had held that in respect to the land taken from the proprietors from their permissible ceiling limits under a Punjab law, only the management and control would vest with the panchayat and not the title. “No part of the land can be re-partitioned amongst the proprietors, and such land would not be available for sale,’’ the apex court had ruled.

The farmers — who have been cultivating the land for the past several decades– fear losing their chunks of land holdings following the SC ruling.

Talking to reporters after the meeting of the farmers’ delegation with the CM, Haryana’s Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue) VS Kundu said shamlat land issue is a very complex one and pointed out that several acts have been introduced on this issue in the past.

Referring to the farmers’ demand on the issue, Kundu said, “within legal framework, while abiding by the Supreme Court orders, how we can give relief to the farmers is being contemplated”.

Farmer leader Suresh Koth, who along with other senior farmer leader Dr Darshan Pal took part in the meeting, said the main issue was related to the Shamlat Deh.

“It’s not appropriate to vacate the land from those farmers whose three generations have been cultivating it. Following our demand, the government has agreed to stop action on a letter issued on August 18 this year which had asked to vacate the land parcels. We have got assurance of getting ownership rights to the farmers by the introduction of a law,” said Koth.

He said the government sought time saying there were many legal hurdles involved and farmers agreed to give them time. “Our talks have been positive,” he said.

Replying to a question, Kundu said the farmers put other issues also before the CM and added “we had a detailed meeting”. “The government is considering their demands and trying to find a solution to these,” he said.

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