Haryana farmers invoke Marx and Mao, urge China to roll back Sonepat land grab
Farmers fighting for land rights on the tip of Haryana's border with Delhi are trying to invoke the names of socialist icons Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong, to draw the attention of Chinese authorities to their demands.
The affiliates of the Bhoomi Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (BBSS) at Kharkhoda in Sonepat district have written a letter addressed to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, seeking a rollback of land acquisition by China's Wanda Group in the area.
Besides the Chinese Premier, the letter has also been addressed to the CEO of Wanda Group, Wang Jianlin, Chinese ambassador to India, Zhang Yan, and Indian ambassador to China, Vijay Gokhale.
Through this letter, the farmers have tried to draw the 'eagle eye' to the plight of 10,000 farmers, who have been agitating for more than last five years against the government acquiring their fertile land. The Wanda Group reportedly proposes to set up a $10 billion industrial township in Kharkhoda.
The plight of the farmers
The farmers have been fighting a battle at the legal and administrative levels against the acquisition of more than 3,303 acres of land, and are adamant on fighting it till death.
BBSS leader Hansraj Rana told Catch: "It is the question of livelihood of 10,000 families. A large number of farmers have not even taken the compensation offered to them in lieu of their land. While the compensation being paid for land acquired in far off areas in districts like Fatehabad is close to Rs 80 lakh per acre, the farmers here have got far less around Rs 59 lakh per acre for the land located right next to Delhi. Right from the beginning, we have been saying that the government should acquire barren land instead of our fertile land, if it wants to give it to companies to develop industrial zones."
He said that a petition in the matter is pending in the Supreme Court.
Dr Shamsher, a lawyer who has aligned himself with the agitating farmers, said: "The fertile land was falsely shown as barren by the bureaucrats, in connivance with the politicians. Why doesn't the government put the documents related to this acquisition in the public domain?"
According to reports, the Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC), in January 2015, had signed a memorandum of understanding with Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda, to develop Wanda Industrial New City in Kharkhoda.
Huge tracts of fertile farmland were originally acquired during Bhupinder Singh Hooda's Congress regime to set up an industrial model township, which failed to take off. Farmers allege that now, the land has been given to Wanda Group as a third party transfer.
Rana said: "We have written to the Chinese authorities saying that such an acquisition is against the principles laid down by the Congress of the Communist International."
The farmers have prayed in the letter: "We, the farmers and working class of India, request the Chinese competent authorities to take necessary actions in this regard and deter this deal, as it sets a wrong precedent, thus resulting in the poor image of a communist country working for the survival and benefits of a common man by ensuring healthy labour policies and transparent corporate culture. When capitalist (meaning capitalism) meets communism on its own terms and costs, it always proves lethal to any system."
They have also pointed out that the youth of the region is not going to gain in any way from this project, as the Chinese company has declined any scope for their employment in the project. The farmers have also pointed out that since the project is coming up on fertile land, it will be detrimental to the local ecology and agriculture.
Dr Shamsher further said: "There is even a security angle to it. How can the Indian government allow exclusive rights over land to the Chinese right next to the national capital? Who knows what all will happen there?"
He said the agitated farmers protested and unsuccessfully gheraoed the local MP, Ramesh Chander Kaushik, on Friday. They now plan to gherao the HSIIDC officials in the near future.
While the case of Kharkhoda has received attention since the villagers decided to write to the Chinese authorities instead of their own government, this is not the sole struggle that the farmers are carrying on with.
Farmers, who claim to have won a case in the Punjab and Haryana High Court pertaining to their not taking compensation and allowing acquisition of their land for the Rajiv Gandhi Education City, are demanding that their land be re-registered in their names.
Raj Pal Seoli, the leader of Bhoomi Adigrahan Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti, said: "They must carry out the inteqal of the land at the earliest. The decision in our case came on 30 November last year, and we got the landownership back for 31 acres. While 75% of the people whose land had been acquired took the compensation, the remaining did not. Some cases are still on. So is our dharna."
Just three days ago, residents of Khurrampur village in Sonepat district, under the leadership of Kisan Sabha leader Shradha Nand Solanki, handed over a memorandum to the local authorities that was addressed to Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar against the acquisition of 300 acres of agricultural land by the district administration on 8 January.
Solanki claimed that the acquisition was done without serving notices to the villagers, and the authorities destroyed the crop on the land. The land has been reportedly acquired for the construction of Kundli-Ghaziabad-Palwal Expressway.
The district administration reportedly claimed the land belonged to the gram panchayat, and was illegally occupied by some villagers. It also claimed the villagers were given prior notices to vacate the land.
Edited by Shreyas Sharma