ACHHAM, April 10: During the conflict era, Armed Police Force (APF) had set up its camp by encroaching 64 ropanis of land belonging to local farmers in Sanfebagar. But even after a decade of signing the peace accord, the 50 farmers have neither been provided with reasonable compensation nor have been able to use their own lands for farming.
Fifteen years ago, APF had set up its camp in this land without the consent of the farmers. Though the camp has already been removed from the land, the farmers are still unable to use it for agriculture. APF had set up its camp for five years here from September 4, 2002 to April 2007. Sanfebagar is among one of the most fertile lands of the district and is rich in agricultural production.
APF had placed its camp by destroying the crops of the farmers for which they had demanded compensation. One of the farmers Hirand Bahadur Kunwar laments that they have not been able to use their land for growing crops though the land was freed ten years ago. "We were heart-broken when our crops were destroyed when we were about to harvest," said Hirand, adding," When APF personnel were here, using land was a far-fetched dream as we were hardly allowed to move around freely."
APF left the camp by destroying our cultivable land. There are huge bunkers and tunnels dug up for wars which have not been dismantled yet. As a result, this arable land has been nothing more than a river bank. There are large stones and rocks all over the land which were used by the army to build bunkers. "It feels so bad to see our land barren when the nearby fields are full of green crops," said another farmer Katthi Tamata. According to the farmers, their land almost looks like a landslide-hit area instead of a farm.
Ram Bahadur Kunwar, one of the farmers, shared that they used to get threatened by the paramilitary force even while using the land nearby the camp. "Those five years were really troublesome for us," Ram recalled. A total of 16 households were displaced and many Dalit children were deprived of education.
It really has been challenging for the farmers to distinguish their land now. "Earlier, our lands were separated by rows but now it's hard to distinguish as the land has been made even," laments Ram. This has prevented the land owners from selling the land. "After APF left the land, the government had provided Rs 2,000 as compensation 'equivalent' to crop production of five years. But the amount was not even match the crop production of one year," he added.
Of late, farmers have formed a local committee to raise their voice for compensation. But nothing has been done yet from the government's side.