Protests can be seen on every ground of the nation. We all are witnessing the peaceful but impactful ways of protests adopted by people against certain governmental laws. We read in the newspapers, watch in our televisions how every day starts with some strong voices coming together against the injustice meted to them. We stop, read and then switch on to reading about other protests without paying serious attention to their issues. Even if we seldom try to think about it, we may either categorize it in the heads of religionism, casteism, or the lead towards so-called “acche din”.
Can we take a minute out and pay deep attention to why every sector, every economic agent, i.e household, firms except businessmen, are showing resentment?
Well, this is again a debated topic and we need to stop here as I might just be declared as anti-national.
Coming back to the main topic of the piece, if you turn the map of India around the farmers of Ninder village in Rajasthan, you’ll see that they have half-buried themselves in the ground. Why, you ask?
It is because those 21 farmers have raised their voice against the “alleged land acquisition” by the Jaipur Development Authority for a housing project.
The Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) has planned to launch the biggest housing scheme in history and it will be launched in the Ninder village situated on the Jaipur- Sikar Highway. They have proposed to build 3000 plots of different sizes which will be developed on approx. 1350 bighas under this project. So, will these plots be given to these farmers from whom the JDA is trying to acquire 1350 bighas land? The answer is an unfortunate no.
Every textbook explains the journey of the exploitation of farmers; how the zamindari system was abolished and how different land reforms were adopted. Those land reforms, like the abolition of intermediaries, the tenancy reform, fixation of a ceiling on landholdings, consolidation of landholdings, were undertaken to eliminate all elements of exploitation and social injustice within the agrarian system, to provide security for the tiller of the soil and assure equality of status and opportunity to all sections of the rural population. But with the passage of time, the growing dissatisfaction among farmers is proof that these promises merely act as words on paper and barely hold in practice.
A farmer is the one who plays a major role in building one of the foundational pillars of the Indian economy, agriculture. A farmer is not someone who possesses a bungalow, car, luxuries or expensive clothing and they are not ones to explore every single restaurant in the town. But they are the ones who work in extreme weather to grow food crops and cash crops. They are the ones who work day in and out for their children to get an education. They are the ones who dream of having a house of their own and it takes their entire life to build one.
The farmers of Ninder are not different. According to the Ninder Bachao Kisan Yuva Samiti, the farmers of Ninder village are not ready to hand over the possession of their land. It is roughly estimated that 1920 lives are going to be affected by this conflict between the Ninder farmers and the civic body.
We might all agree that the farmers have adopted a very unique way to show their disagreement. They are taking turns to sit in pits buried up to their waist in mud. What I understand from their act of burying themselves in the ground is that it’s their land, they possess it and they have earned it at a cost of uncountable efforts. If the Jaipur Development Authority is so willing to acquire their land, then they might not have another place to reside and thus, it’s better to get buried in their land than to suffer for survival. What these farmers are demanding is to follow the “New Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act”, which mentions that the government cannot acquire land if there’s no consent from 80% of the farmers.
Thus, if 1536, 80% of 1920, lives are going to be affected and they are not ready to hand over their property, does their choice not matter? Do they simply have no right to say no? Where is the freedom of choice of these people?