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Posted at: Aug 24, 2015, 12:37 AM; last updated: Aug 23, 2015, 11:18 PM (IST)

Stay eviction proceedings: Farmers

Kuldeep Chauhan

Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 23

Backed by the Left and NGOs, farmers today demanded that the eviction proceedings be stayed.

They urged the government to file a fresh petition in the High Court for the regularisation of encroachments on government land under Forest Rights Act (FRA).

Budhi Singh and Nain Sukh of Shaut village in Nankheri area said the state government was treating them like “prisoners of war” in their homeland. “The police and forest staff disconnected our water and electricity connections without listening to us,” they said.

Bela Devi, a widow, said the fruit was auctioned by the Forest Department on August 9 and 10 without informing them. “The farmers were not evicted by the civil court. The government action is one-sided and the money should be given back to them,” demanded Rakesh Singha, president, Himachal Seb Utpadak Sangh.

Singha said the Centre had already relaxed the utilisation of forest land in 13 items and the state could ask the Centre to add more items allotting suitable land to the landless. “The state government should stop displacing poor people. The Congress and BJP should frame a policy to rehabilitate the farmers in the state,” Singha said.

CPM state secretariat member Tikender Panwar today demanded that the Congress government should implement the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs, in its review meeting on July 2, 2015, had pulled up Himachal for its poor track record in implementing the FRA.

Out of the total 5,409 individual cases across Himachal, only 238 cases have been settled so far. As far as the community rights are concerned, only 283 community claims have been filed, out of which just 108 were settled, Panwar added.

The Forest Department met NGOs and other bodies to discuss the forest rights on May 27, 2013. It had decided to file an affidavit in the High Court. But it started evicting the farmers, he said. “No member of a forest dwelling should be evicted or removed from the forest land till the recognition and verification procedure is completed as per the FRA,” Panwar said.

“The state government should file an affidavit in the court requesting deferment of the HC orders on eviction till the FRA is fully implemented in the state.

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