The incorrigible complainant : The Tribune India

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The incorrigible complainant

The incorrigible complainant

Photo for representation. File photo



Surinderjit Singh Sandhu

AN elderly man entered my office with a bundle of papers. He said: ‘These revenue papers mention that I am the landowner. I have requested the patwari a hundred times, but he has not demarcated my land.’ I looked at the copy of the record of rights, in which he was named as the owner of a 10-marla piece of land. I wrote on his application: ‘Please report the facts within two days’; then I sent it to the tehsildar.

The complainant came to my office four days later. The tehsildar’s report had been received; it mentioned that the land in question had been acquired for the Nangal hydel channel about four decades ago and presently the canal passed through the land. I informed the man about the report, but he indignantly said: ‘I was not given any notice of acquisition. The land is in my name. I was not paid compensation.’

He was right to the extent that if his land had been acquired for the canal, the revenue record should have been updated. I told him to come back after 10 days. He left my room in a huff, ruing the injustice done to him. The canal was part of the Bhakra Dam project, whose work began in the late 1940s. It was a huge task to retrieve an over 40-year-old record and study it to find the truth. However, the tehsildar had informed me that the man was a habitual complainant, who had been told many times that his land had been acquired. The acquisition notification confirmed that the land had been acquired, but the field number of the complainant was inadvertently omitted while recording the mutation. The registers of payment and the roznamcha mentioned that the man had received compensation. I got the mutation of the corrected entry sanctioned. When he came to me on the appointed date, I gave him the latest copy of the record and showed him his signatures on the acquittance roll as proof of receipt of compensation. He disregarded the facts and instead threatened that he would go to the high court.

A week after the incident, then Punjab Governor visited the subdivision. He met people to hear their grievances. The incorrigible complainant vented his ire and made me the target of his invectives. The calm and composed Governor just looked at me once. I wanted to say something, but he signalled me to keep mum. He handed over all complaints to the deputy commissioner. Later, I sent my report to the DC. After about a week, I got a letter from him, appreciating the pains I had taken to dig out the truth. But that person continued giving us trouble whenever any VIP visited the subdivision, demanding that his land be returned.

Later, I came across many cases in which landowners received compensation (even twice, at times) but still got the acquired yet unutilised land back by resorting to deceitful litigation as the relevant record of land acquisition was not traceable after a lapse of decades. These unscrupulous persons knew well how to work the system.


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