Maoists sell off lands they captured during insurgency

Published On: August 8, 2018 04:30 AM NPT

DANG, Aug 8: The then Maoist rebels had captured the lands of many farmers in Bargadi village in Gorahi Sub-metropolis, Dang district, in the course of their armed insurgency. At the time naive farmers thought that as the Maoists were purportedly working for the welfare of the people they would eventually return the land to their rightful owners.

However, as time passed, the Maoists started getting greedy and eventually they assumed ownership of the lands, thereby cheating the farmers out of their own property. Infuriated by the betrayal, the farmers are finally mustering the courage to reclaim their captured lands.

In the course of the Maoist insurgency, 11 farmers in Gorahi were shot dead by Nepal Army personnel on November 28, 2001. The Maoist rebels declared the dead farmers martyrs. However, they also captured the lands that the farmers used to work under the adhiya system of crop sharing.

Local landowners and farmers including Chinta Mani Sharma, Bharat Mani Sharma and Krishna Prasad Sharma became displaced when the Maoists chased them away. The Maoists then declared that the captured lands, which totalled almost 20 bighas, now belonged to them. The rebels also took away most of the possessions inside the houses standing on the lands. Likewise, trees near the houses were cut down and sold off.

However, the farmers remained confident that they would eventually get back their captured lands.

“The Maoists told us that the captured lands would be ours again once they had completed their mission,” recalled Dibya Chaudhary, a local. “We were confident they would keep their word.”

The Maoists did eventually hand over around 11.5 bigha of the lands to some of the villagers. But not all of them were conflict victims. Most of the land was distributed to those who were close to the Maoists. Most of the farmers, who had no Maoist links, did not get back their lands .

Following the peace process, the local Maoist leaders started pressuring the farmers to sell the captured lands at a very low price. Some of the farmers, who had already lost hope of the land ever being returned, agreed to sell to the captors at cheap rates.

Later on, the Maoists started plotting up the lands, much to the surprise of the farmers. Outraged by the betrayal, victims have started repossessing the captured lands. They have also destroyed the dozers used for plotting up the land. However, the Maoists quelled the situation, promising each of the victims a small plot for house construction, said Dibya Chaudhary.

The farmers are being fooled once again. Local Maoist leaders have started selling the land plots to land dealers. “So far, our land has already been sold thrice,” another victim, Sushila Chaudhary, said.

While the Maoists provided small plots to the farmers to pacify them, the locals said arable land was of more value for them .

“We'd choose to get back our arable lands rather than a small piece of plotted land any day. However, the Maoist leaders only look to their own advantage and insisted that we accept the land of lesser value ,” said Dibya Chaudhari.

The villagers had also requested the Maoists to set aside at least one katta of the captured land for constructing a memorial to the farmers killed by the army. While they seemingly agreed initially, they later secretly sold that land to a dealer.

The villagers also submitted a memorandum to the District Administration Office (DAO) to stop the land sale. However, it was to no avail. Sushil Chaudhary, said they will not give up on the land for the memorial.                                                            

Human rights bodies said ignoring local wishes would add insult to injury. Some organizations have also brought the issue to the attention of the DAO.

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