The Kutch police arrested 12 villagers for allegedly attacking a family of Sikh farmers over land dispute on Friday. The incident has irked Sikh farmers who are already protesting the state governments decision to freeze their land accounts on the grounds that they are migrants.
According to local sources,a group of 40 men had attacked Jaswinder Singh and his family in Loriya village in Bhuj taluka. Sources said Singh lives with a group of 22 Sikh families who were allotted land by the government in 1965. This group owns around 400 acres of land in the village.
Singh keeps shifting from Loriya to Punjab when there is not much rain in the district. He had gone to Punjab for farming as there was no rain here. Recently,he came back after the district received good rainfall. He found that his land was already being used by some local farmers, said Vidhi Chaudhary,Superintendent of Police,Bhuj.
Singh has said in the FIR that he keeps shuttling between Loriya and Punjab. Sources also said that the some influential accused have forged documents and claimed ownership of the land.
On October 9,when the Sikh family refused to compromise,around 40 villagers gheraoed and assaulted him. His house was damaged and they were beaten up, said a local source.
Singh has identified 15 persons as accused. Out of them,12 have been arrested so far. They have been identified as Pratap Sinh Jadeja,Khodaji Jadeja,Bhagwan Sinh Jadeja,Raoji Koli,Karuba Jadeja,among others. The B division police station in Bhuj has lodged an FIR under various sections of IPC,including 323 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt),rioting among others.
Police claimed that the incident had no connection with the ongoing controversy over freezing of Sikh farmers land by the state government. However,the incident has triggered a fresh controversy as local say that such cases are rare in the region.
The Sikh farmers settled in Kutch after former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shashtris appeal to settle here for strategic reasons during the war between India and Pakistan in 1965. There are at least 5,000 such families in Kutch. In 2011,a notice of district collector froze their land under Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Land Act,1948,that prevents them from selling,buying or taking any loan or subsidy on their land. The case is pending with the Supreme Court.