Where are the land Reforms in Bengal?

March 6, Birbhoom

On March 6, Jan Samwad Yatra reached Birbhoom District of west Bengal after visiting 10 other states of the country. The first stop of the Yatra was Tarapur, where yatra was welcomed jointly by the civil society groups of West Bengal. Tarapur Vikas Samiti welcomed all satyagrahis. Shri Chandan Das, Senior, Gandhian and representative of Sarva Sewa Sangh shared that Bengal has always been pivotal in many social awareness campaigns even before independence. Even land movement started from West Bengal. After the formation of Shanti Niketan, many students went to villages and in latter stage, they joined decisive independence movement. Bengal is known for land reforms in 70s but the results of the land reforms did not reach to the grass roots in North Bengal. In Santhals dominated villages, many families are land less which has resulted in Land movements in the past days. Second phase of land reforms is still due in west Bengal. There should be a complete ban on land acquisition in two-three crop growing areas. People have great expectation from ruling government and administration on land reforms as has been seen in the recent poll verdict. Speaking in the meeting organised at village Korkudia, Coordinator of Tarapur Vikas Samiti, Palash Das shared that around 30 families are living in the village for last 100 years. They were settled by the then king of the princely estate (Riyasat) but were not given any entitlement after independence. Even the lands in which their houses are built do not belong to them. Only about 50% families get labour work in the village for 6 month while others are forced to migrate for work. Most of the families in the village do contract agriculture (by taking land from landlords on contract). They grow rice on Batai in rainy season due to the fear of loss while in autumn; crops are not given on Batai. Bataidaar (partner/shareholder) get 1/3 of crop in good crop time while at the time of loss, no share is given to Bataidar. They are not covered by the “Bargadaar” law as they get contract for only one crop. Bhim Soren of Tarpur shared that they usually get Rs 100/day as labourer and get manual labour work usually for approx. 4 months and for rest of the year ( 6-8 month), they remain unemployed. At the end of the meeting, Palash Das shared that all Santhals of the area want to join and support the Jansatyagraha yatra


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