Nepal: Maoists Step Up the Pace of Land Seizures
Posted by Ka Frank on December 16, 2009
Posted by Ka Frank on December 16, 2009
My Republica, December 15, 2009
Maoists on land grab rampage
KATHMANDU: In clear violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the Maoists have stepped up their land grab across the country. The Maoist party seized public and private land worth millions of rupees [10 million Nepali rupees = $135,000] in several districts including Kavre, Sunsari, Dang and Nawalparasi, and hoisted Maoist party flags on the seized lands.
Local Maoists say they captured the land as per the party´s policy to settle landless people as the government turned a blind eye to their plight.
On Tuesday, the former rebels seized 402 ropanis [20 hectares/50 acres] of private land in Devbhumi Baluwa VDC, Kavre. The Maoists had been selling mangoes grown there, and members of the Maoist-affiliated All Nepal Peasants Union (Revolutionary) and All Nepal Landless People´s Union (Revolutionary) held a rally, hoisted party flags and announced seizure of the land. Previously, the local poor and dalits worked the land on a crop-sharing basis. Maoist joint district in-charge Indra Bahadur Thing and All Nepal Peasants´ Union (Revolutionary) district chief Jhalak Lamichane addressed the rally and said the party will go on seizing lands owned by “feudal lords” to distribute among the poor.
The Maoists hoisted party flags on 278 ropanis at Karkatar of Baluwa-6 and 144 ropanis at Baluwa-3. The land was previously owned by Mohan Shumsher Rana in bulk and is now owned by various persons including Mani Ratna Shakya, Sanu Ratna Shakya, Shreedhar Shumsher Rana, Lokbhakta Rana, Sarwagya Rana and Mukunda Shumsher Rana. Similarly, pieces of land seized in Baluwa-3 are owned by Babit Singh Rana, Prithvi Singh JBR and Jharendra Shumsher Rana.
Bhim Bahadur Danuwar and Gyaniman Lama are among the tenants working the land on a crop-sharing basis for the last 50 years and they also claim to have received tenancy rights from the Land Reform Office nine years ago. But the Maoists seized their share also.
Maoist district secretary Ganga Bahadur Tamang, however, said that the party captured the land to prevent real estate brokers from selling it in secret. He said the Maoist move will facilitate the land ownership rights of the tenants.
In Itahari of Sunsari district, Maoists seized 38 katthas [1.4 hectares] of valuable land owned by the local Geeta temple. A group of Maoists led by vice president of the Maoist-affiliated All Nepal Landless People´s Union (Revolutionary) Arun Khawas announced the seizure of the land and planted the party´s flags. The land is worth over Rs 70 million. The Maoists chanted slogans after announcing the land grab. The land was donated to the temple some 27 years ago by Ganga Pokharel of Itahari-4. Locals Dal Bahadur Koirala and Bhagawan Dhakal are the land tenants.
The Maoists have also started setting up huts on the seized lands and settling squatters there. The party plans to set up 42 huts. Maoist landless people´s union chief in Sunsari Surendra Katawal said the party had to make the move as the government turned a blind eye on the plight of the landless.
The party has stated that Bhagawan Khadka and Dal Bahadur Karki will get four khatthas each and the rest will go to others. The party took the decision as Khadka and Karki have been landless for a long time. The Maoists said they seized the land as per the party´s central policy.
In Chitwan, Maoists seized 72 ropanis of private land in Gaidakot VDC. The land is owned by the sons of Nepali Congress leader and former parliamentarian Surya Bhakta Adhikari. “Surya Bhakta Adhikari procured the ownership certificate for the land with the backing of the then government. So don’t call it a capture,” said Drona Babu Siwakoti, Maoist joint district in-charge of Nawalparasi.
The Maoist party has stated that some 200 landless people will be settled on the seized lands. People from as far away as Ratanpur, Kerauni and Devghat villages have come to Gaidakot in hopes of acquiring the land. Maoists are busy in measurement of the land for its distribution among those people. The Maoist party has stated that people from Gaidakot will get first priority.
In Dang, the Maoists have continued the seizure of 1,700 bighas [1290 hectares] of land owned by Nepal Sanskrit University. The university has used only 40-50 bighas there. According to university official Dilip Bhattarai, the university has lost land east of the Rapti River in Deukhuri. There were tenants on the land and the university had agreed to give half the land to them in the past. But the land disputes could not be settled as the Maoists claimed ownership over all the land.
The Maoists have revved up the land grab drive “in a bid to settle landless people”. In the first week of December, five persons including a policeman lost their lives during a clash in Kailali district between police and landless people backed by the Maoists.