Nagri Village, Ranchi

Why People Of Nagri Village Won’t Be Celebrating Diwali Festival?

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On Diwali, the festival of light, it is popularly believed that on this auspicious day, the bright illumination will spread far and wide to banish the darkness that surrounds our lives.

But is it really so?

Not really, the residents of Nagri village do not really think so. As the pall of gloom hangs over their head, they are not sure how they are going to fight the ghost of darkness that has descended over them and their family, ever since the so-called democratically elected Jharkhand Government has decided to forcibly occupy their agriculture land for the “developmental” purposes. Thus, the adversely affected families are really unsure about their present and also the fate of their future generation.

Nagri Village, Ranchi
Nagri Village, Ranchi

Without their agriculture land, how these farmers are going to survive? 

What kind of development, Arjun Munda led coalition government of BJP, JMM-& AJSU of Jharkhand is envisioning? It is really beyond the comprehension of common sense.

Why should Jharkhand Government forcibly take over agricultural land for construction of buildings for educational institute?

Especially when acres of fallow land (non-agriculture) are available in the vicinity of Ranchi, for the construction of the education institutes.

When one consider that in 1957-58, Government (tried to) acquire the agriculture land for the purpose of setting up Birsa Agriculture University. As the government told the farmers that it wanted to acquire these farm lands for carrying out research in the field of agriculture, and that it would help the farmers of entire Jharkhand state in the long run. So some farmers of the Nagri villagers agreed, and the government decided to acquire the agriculture lands of 153 families for the agriculture research purpose by the BAU. But the government’s records show that 128 families did not accept the compensation, and continued to carry out their farming activities on their ancestral land, since 1958. In addition, most of the 128 families have continued to pay the land revenue to government on regular basis; until one fine day, couple of years ago, when Jharkhand Government decided to forcibly acquire their land for setting up educational institute.

Is this really constitutional on part of Jharkhand Government?

Let us see, what the preamble of the constitution of India state:

“We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic, and to secure to all its citizens; Justice: Social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship; Equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all; Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.”

We are not legal luminary, but many of us can really see vast disconnect between what the Jharkhand Government has done in Nagri village and what our constitution says.

Diving deep into Indian constitution, we were told that Ranchi district, under which Nagri village comes under the Fifth Schedule and PESA Act.

But what is Fifth Schedule of Indian Constitution?

According to the relevant provisions of the Fifth Schedule [Article 244 (1)] and the Provisions as to the administration and control of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes:

  • Report by the Governor to the President regarding the administration of Scheduled Areas:

The Governor of each state having scheduled areas therein shall annually, or whenever so required by the President, make a report to the President, regarding the administration of the scheduled areas in that state and the executive power of the union shall extend to the giving of directions to the state as to the administration of the said areas.

  • Laws applicable to Scheduled Areas:

(1) Notwithstanding anything in this constitution, the Governor, may by public notification direct that any particular Act of Parliament or of the legislature of the State shall not apply to a Scheduled areas or any part thereof in the state or shall apply to a Scheduled Area or any part thereof in the state subject to such exception and modifications as he may specify in the notification and any direction given under this sub-paragraph may be given so as to have retrospective effect.

(2) The Governor may make regulations for the peace and good government of any area in a state which is for the time being a Scheduled Area.

In particular and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such regulations may –

(a) Prohibit or restrict the transfer of land by or among members of the Scheduled Tribes in such areas;

(b) regulate the allotment of land to members of the Scheduled Tribes in such areas;

(c) regulate the carrying on of business as money-lenders by persons who lend money to members of the Scheduled Tribes in such areas.

(3) In making any such regulation as is referred to in sub-paragraph (2) of this paragraph, the Governor may replace or amend any Act of Parliament or of the legislature of the state or any existing law which is for the time being applicable to the area in question.

(4) All regulations made under this paragraph shall be submitted forthwith to the President and, until assented to by him, shall no effect.

  • The objects it is desired to secure are:

(1) to prohibit sale;

(2) to stop all forms of mortgage save that known as Bhugut-bundha, and thereby prevent these savages becoming the serfs of money-lenders;

(3) to follow recognized custom and allow certain forms of transfer to other Mundaris;

(4) to invest the Deputy Commissioner with power to give effect to this prohibition of sale and certain restrictions on transfer;

(5) to provide for the realization of arrears of the rent;

(6) to secure the finality of the record-of-rights.

Again, we fail to understand, why Governor of Jharkhand is silent on the issue of Nagri village’s land acquisition; more so when our constitution gives him ample power to take corrective action?

Besides, it must be mentioned that Chotanagpur Tenancy Act (CNT) is also applicable in the case of land acquisition of Nagri village, which puts lawful restrictions on transfer of agriculture land(s).

And what about violation of PESA Act?

The Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act {PESA Act} is enacted to move towards at the decentralization of governance and the strengthening of the democracy at the grass-root level in the areas that come under Fifth Schedule. In the PESA Act, the 3-tier structure of local self government was envisaged under this amendment, viz., (a) Gram Sabha, (b) Gram Panchayat, and (c) Block or Taluka level body. These local bodies are mandated that the resources, responsibility and decision making be passed on from central government to the lowest unit of the governance, the Gram Sabha or the Village Assembly.

As we have discussed in the past that Jharkhand Government is not really keen to implement PESA ACT in letter and spirit in the state. This is despite the fact that panchayat elections were held more than a year ago in the state, and the elected representatives of the local bodies are yet to get the various administrative powers mandated under the PESA Act.

No doubt the farmers of Nagri village are in strife, despite the provisions of PESA Act.

Had PESA Act been in followed then the problem of forcible acquisition of agricultural land would not have taken place; as the voices of Nagri Gram Sabha and Gram Panchayat would have been heard and carried some weight in the on-going so-called development schemes of things. Really, the development of one section of society should not be built on the ruins of other sections of society.

Meanwhile, in the absence of PESA Act in state, we might see more and more instances of forcible land acquisition by the people perched at the top of Jharkhand Government, because of the vested commercial interests of the people involved.

The instances like land acquisition at Nagri village do raises the question about non-implementation of PESA Act in the state.

The CNT (Chotanagpur Tenancy) Act

We would be able to give you the exhaustive details of the CNT Act here, but we can certainly state that CNT Act tries to provide a kind of security to farmers against the cases of land-grabbing in its area, where the said act is applicable. In short, CNT Act prohibits the transfer of land belonging to ST (Scheduled Tribe), SC (Scheduled Caste) and BC (Backward Class) to the members belonging to other categories, unless District Commissioner explicitly allows it. Thus CNT Act is a lawful shield that tries to protect the land and interest of the weaker sections of our society.

But what can farmers of Nagri village do when those who are supposed to protect them and establish rule of law, they themselves indulge in forcible acquisition.

What about the honest implementation of CNT Act in Jharkhand? Is it really ever going to happen?

How can people of Nagri celebrate Diwali, when gloomy darkness engulfs light?

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Sameer Bhagat

Written by

Social-Activist. Author of SALVAGING ADIDWEEP.


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