New Delhi: It’s not every day that one comes across people celebrating festivals like that of Diwali, sitting neck-deep in pits dug on the ground. But on Thursday, when people would be indulging in festivities across the nation, a group of at least 50 farmers in Neendar would observe the day from their ‘zameen samadhis’.
The unique protest that has grabbed many an eyeball across the nation, started on October 2 against the acquisition of farm land and will enter its 17th day on Diwali.
Men and women, irrespective of their age, have been sitting in these neck-deep pits to protest what they call is a forceful acquisition of 540 acres land by the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) to build housing societies.
The farmers have been protesting ever since the construction work for the proposed housing society started in September. They sat through Karwa Chauth and Dhanteras in these pits and images of wives seeking blessings from their husband buried in the ground, became an instant hit on the Internet.
At any given time in Neendar, one can find at least 50 men and women sitting inside these pits with an ‘indefinite hunger strike’ banner in the background.
The state government has maintained that it has awarded adequate compensation to farmers whose land is being acquired to build societies, while the unclaimed compensation money has been submitted in the court.
The BJP government has also said that proposal for the housing society was cleared in 2010 by the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government. The government is compensating the farmers as directed by the 2010 proposal and at prices set seven years ago.
Now, the farmers are alleging that Gehlot had promised them that their land would not be acquired and agreed that the prices were outdated and incommensurate with the new farm prices.
In the 16-day protest, two women were reported to have collapsed while sitting inside the pits. This prompted the state government to call them for talks. However, discussions between the two parties have remained inconclusive so far.
The proposed housing society has 18 colonies that are supposed to accommodate a population of at least 7,000 people.
Agitated farmers have also argued that similar housing societies constructed in the past by JDA, have found few takers. Thus, this ‘forcible acquisition’ will ultimately prove to be a wastage at several levels.