Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, January 24
Activists of the Panchayati Zameenan Bachao Action Committee on Friday held a dharna outside the residence of Kartarpur MLA Chaudhary Surinder Singh in protest against the state government proposal to use village common (shamlat) land for industrial purposes.
Led by the Pendu Mazdoor Union, the activists submitted a memorandum to the state government through the MLA. The letter demanded the withdrawal of the government proposal to sell village common land to corporate houses; ensure allocation of panchayat land to Dalits on reduced rates; 10 marla residential plots be allotted to homeless, landless people; ownership of lands allotted to Dalits/landless people at different times given to them. Activists also demanded grants for making homes and provision of jobs to labourers. Chaudhary Surinder Singh assured activists that their demands would be addressed, following which the protesters lifted the dharna.
Addressing the gathering, activists said in the name of industrial development, a huge chunk of state land, which had been protected as village commons for ages, was now being handed over to corporates. The action committee protests against the state government’s decision to amend the Punjab Village Common Land (Regulation) Rules, 1964.
Activists said until now the landless, peasants and Dalit families had certain legal rights over these lands. They could plant crops on a third of this land or these could also be provided as residential plots to landless/ homeless people.
They said while the peasantry and landless Dalits were burdened with debts and economic strife, the government rather than reducing the crisis was instead aggravating it by snatching away their former right to lay a claim over village common which have served as open spaces in villages for ages. They said in case the government did not respond to the demands being raised by them, they would intensify their agitation.
Pendu Mazdoor Union state press secretary Kashmir Singh Ghugshore, residents Jasvir Gora, Sarbjit Kaur Kuddowal, Paramjit Kaur, and Naujawan Bharat Sabha leader Veer Kumar addressed the gathering.
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