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PD (2006.5.14): Peasants Struggle For Land In Uttarakhand

People’s Democracy Vol. XXX, No. 20
May 14, 2006

PROTESTING against the attacks of moneylenders turned land mafias on poor peasants in collision with local police, the All India Kisan Sabha local unit organised a demonstration at the block head quarters of Sitarganj block in Udham Singh Nagar district of Uttarakhand on April 26. The demonstration was led and addressed by N.K.Shukla, Joint Secretary, All India Kisan Sabha, Bacchi Ram Kaunswal, president, Gangadhar Nautial, secretary, Surendra Sajwan,vice president, Shiv Prasad Deoli, treasurer Uttarakhand state Kisan Sabha and Satya Prakash, president state CITU, Madan Mishra secretary state DYFI among others.

Thousands of refugees who had come from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) were rehabilitated in 13 villages of the then Nanital district now named Udham Singh Nagar. Each refugee family was given 5 acres of land. Bad terrain, undeveloped land and lack of capital forced a good number of refugees to borrow and get engulfed in the debt trap of moneylenders. They were forced to pay high interest rates – some time even 100 percent per year along with compound interest. They had to surrender their land to the moneylenders owing to the debts and thus became bonded labourers on their own land. Though legally these lands belong to pattedars, they can neither be purchased nor sold.