December 26, 2013 4:19:30 am
Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama on Wednesday assured the Sikh farmers of Kutch district that they would get their rights as they too had contributed in the development of the state.
Sikhs living in any corner of Gujarat are Gujaratis in the first place. (They are) the soul of Gujarat. Sikhs have contributed for the development of Gujarat and,thereby,of Kutch. Therefore,the Sikh farmers of Kutch will get their rights, a government release quoted Chudasama on Wednesday.
The senior minister was speaking at the celebrations of Guru Nanak Jayanti in Lakhpat village of Kutch which saw a gathering of thousands of Sikhs. The Minister of State for Law and Justice,Pradip Chudasama,and BJP MP from Amritsar,Navjot Singh Sidhu,were also present at the event.
But the release did not specify what rights the minister was referring to. Sikh farmer leaders said the minister did not give any specific assurance about the ongoing issue of freezing their land accounts.
Talking to The Indian Express over phone,Chudasama said,Rights of those who have been alloted land by the state government between 1964 and 1984 would be protected. But those who are not agriculturalist and those who are recognised by agriculturalists in other states cannot,according laws of Gujart,purchase agricultural land in Gujarat. However,the matter is sub-judice and we shall abide by the verdict of the Supreme Court.
The Sikh farmers were not being singled out as land accounts of farmers originally from Gujarat and a few other states were among the total 784 frozen by the state government,he added.
We had a closed door meeting with the two ministers and Sidhu. We requested the state government to withdraw its petition from the Supreme Court and implement the Gujarat High Court order. But Chudasama refused to give any answer, Surinder Singh Bhullar,leader of Sikh farmers of Kutch said.
In 2010,the state government had frozen land accounts of 245 Sikh farmers of Punjab and Haryana origin who had bought land in Kutch. The government had stopped any transactions on these accounts stating the states revenue laws barred farmers of other states from purchasing agriculture land in Gujarat. The matter had reached Gujarat HC which had ruled in 2012 that the land holding by Sikh farmers was legal. But the state government has challenged this in the Supreme Court. Meanwhile,it 52 accounts were de-freezed last week.
It was for the first time that any minister of the state government attended the annual celebrations in Lakhapat,the last village of the country on its western border.
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