The Bombay High Court (HC) has granted permission to the state government to enter the disputed land around the ‘Jaystambh’ in Perne village from December 22 to make necessary arrangements for people set to visit the place between December 30 and January 2 to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. Justice B P Colabawalla passed an order in this regard on Friday.
Earlier this month, the state government, through the Pune district collector, had moved a civil application before the HC, seeking permission to allow people to enter the disputed land from December 30 to January 2.
The government had also sought permission from the court to enter the land from December 22 to make arrangements for the programme. On Friday, the court passed an order in favour of the government. The court also said that after January 2, the government should restore the status of the disputed land (as it was on December 22, 2018) by January 12, 2019.
The ‘Jaystambh’ was erected by the British government in 1821 in memory of its soldiers who fought against the Peshwas at Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 1818. Later, the Britishers appointed their soldier, Kandojibin Gajoji Jamadar (Malvadkar), who was wounded in the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, as caretaker of the ‘Jaystambh’ on December 13, 1824. The successors of Jamadar claim that as per ‘Sanad’ no. 338 dated July 30, 1870, given to Kandojibin Gajoji Jamadar by the British government, about 260 acres of land along with the ‘Jaystambh’ land was given to their family.
In 2015, the Bhima Koregaon Vijay Stambh Saurakshan and Savardhan Samiti wrote to Minister of Social Justice Rajkumar Badole alleging that the Jamadar family’s name was illegally included on the 7/12 extract of ‘Jaystambh’ land. The samiti demanded that the Jamadar family’ name be removed from the 7/12 extract, alleged encroachments by them cleared and further encroachments prevented, as lakhs of Ambedkarites visiting the ‘Jaystambh’ every year on January 1 face problems due to lack of space at the spot.
Following the letter, the government initiated action against the Jamadar family. Then Honorary Captain Balasaheb Jamadar, a successor of Kandojibin Gajoji Jamadar, moved a civil court in Pune, seeking an order of permanent injunction to restrain the government from dispossessing them from the ‘Jaystambh’ land.
Last December, the court passed an order against Jamadar, but extended the status quo in the case for one month for the applicants to file an appeal in a higher court. Later, Jamadar moved the Bombay HC. The matter is still pending before the HC and the status quo order continued, as per which no public programme was allowed on the disputed land.
Meanwhile, a lawyer representing the state argued that the Jamadar family had allegedly disobeyed the status quo order on August 8, 2018 by cultivating crops on the disputed land. The court, however, said the government can move an appropriate application in this regard, which shall be decided on its own merits and in accordance with law.
When contacted, Captain Jamadar said, “Our family has been cultivating crops on this land for several years. The status quo order did not mean we should stop cultivation on this land. Whereas, the government and other parties have disobeyed the status quo order in the past by carrying out work/activities on the disputed land without seeking court’s permission.”