The Banaskantha district administration has decided to give possession of land to seven Dalit families of Lavara village who had been fighting for it since 1970s. Incidentally, the district administration’s decision comes a day ahead of Dalit leaders’ plan to forcibly take possession of the land as part of the Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch (RDAM)’s Azadi Kooch march, which is set to conclude in Banaskantha on Tuesday.
“Three Dalit families will get possession of the land by tomorrow. The process for giving possession to the remaining four families is on,” Banaskantha District Collector Dileep Rana told The Indian Express. On the timing of giving possession of the land, Rana denied that it had anything to do with Dalits’ march Azadi Kooch. “The work on this had started earlier. In the 1970s, land was given to the Dalit community. I do not know what happened at that time and how they lost the possession of their land. The moment the Dalit families started claiming the land, we started our work to ensure that they get it,” Rana added.
Azadi Kooch, a march led by Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch leader Jignesh Mewani to commemorate one year of the Una flogging incident, is set to end at Dhanera town in Banaskantha on Tuesday.
Mewani said that after the public meeting, protesters will march to Lavara village with blue flags to make sure that the government lives up to its claim of giving possession of the land. “Allocation of the land has been on paper. But what happens to those who have been occupying the land? Under the Dalit Atrocities Act, a case has to be registered against them,” Mewani added.
Collector Rana, however, said: “There is no offence registered against those who were using the land. It was an agricultural land and was being used for the same purpose.”