Wednesday, June 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Pak army terrorises farmers
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 24
The overbearing attitude of the extremely powerful Pakistani Army has created serious friction between the Army and the farmers in Okara (Punjab), according to a latest classified report received here through the diplomatic channels.

As per the past records in Okara, the then British rulers of India handed over Okara land to the Army for defence use in 1913 for a period of 20 years only. Which means that the land in question should have automatically reverted to the ownership of the Punjab Government after 20 years. But the Pakistani Army continues to exercise unauthorised rights over it. In February 2000, the Army tried to get a permanent legal title to it, but the Punjab Board of Revenue rejected it.

In the past century or so the land has been tilled by tenant farmers or ‘mazareen’. The military leased the land to these farmers on the condition that they would give to the army half of their agricultural yield.

Now after having tilled this land for generations in the past 100 years, farmers want ownership rights. This demand is in reaction to the army’s move in 2000 to cancel the lease and force the farmers to sign an agreement with it.

The army wants them to take the land on contract for a stipulated period. It means a farmer can be evicted on the expiry of the contract or even earlier depending on the conditions laid down in the contract. It also means that a farmer will himself have to organise expensive seed, manure and other agricultural inputs. The farmers appealed to Punjab High Court and lost.

It is an open secret that courts in Pakistan are not willing to give any judgement that would annoy the Army.

With the legal battle lost, the farmers have decided to defend themselves. As a result there have been bloody clashes between farmers and Rangers who fight on behalf of the army. More than 12 farmers have been allegedly killed and many more injured in the past few months.

The Rangers have reportedly turned Okara into a police camp where no sympathising politicians or human rights activists can come. Nor can the Okara villagers go out as they are arrested if they go out.

The report quotes a farmer telling a BBC (Urdu) interviewer: “We feel we are living in Kashmir where there are atrocities.” Obviously, the simple farmer was brainwashed by the Pakistani propaganda. 

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
123 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |