Counterview, June 9 2014, Jaipur: In a statement, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), the powerful rights-based NGOs’ network, has strongly condemned what it has called “highhanded and illegal action of the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA), operating directly under chief minister Vasundhara Raje, against the Rajasthan Samagra Seva Sangh, a well-known Gandhian institute. “The JDA has no authority to seal and vacate the premises of the institution and throw out its residents. It must restore the possession to the Sangh and wait for the pending decision in the High Court, rather than take this drastic and illegal step of sealing the premises”, the statement said.
According to the statement, it is “shocking” that there was “arbitrary exercise of power” on the June 7, 2014, when the JDA sealed the premises of the Sangh, which had been in existence on its own land since 1959. “They threw out all the residents and their belongings, canceled the allotment and took over their land. The insensitivity of the JDA team led by its officials Pawan Arora and Subhash Mahariya was such that in the scorching heat of 47 degrees, one resident who had recently delivered a baby, was asked to leave the room by evening, locking the kitchen and adjoining rooms that she could not even be fed”, the statement said.
“The 80 year old Secretary of the Sangh, Rameshwar Vidyarthi, living with his wife in one room of the premises were thrown out with their belongings and are now on the road. Similarly, the President of the Sangh, Sawai Singh, who had been living with his family, as part of the norms of the Sangh since the last thirty years, also found himself with his family and their belongings on their road”, it said, adding, “The letter of cancellation of allotment and seizure of property dated June 6, signed by Shikhar Agarwal, Secretary, JDA, was handed over by the officials when they came at 1pm on the June 7. It was an order of eviction and they had come to evict.”
“The intention of the JDA was clear, to grab the property of the Sangh, convert it into real estate and grant it to land sharks. The concerned piece of land is in the prime area, next door to the Airport and Jawahar Circle on JLN Marg, that it is priceless commercially. The Raje government in the earlier term was well known for its support to the real estate business interests but had spared civil society”, the NAPM alleged.
“This action clearly, sends a message to all, that this government is merciless and it will get rid of all impediments to its design Rajasthan has never seen such straight assault on Gandhian institutions and ideology”, the statement said, adding, “The argument used by the JDA is that the Sangh violated the conditions of the allotment of the land in 2001. They had to get a map passed by the JDA in a year’s time of its allotment, they had to take approval of construction activity and the space could not be used for any commercial and residential purpose.”
Actually, the NAPM said, “The Sangh land was in the erstwhile Chainpura village, which was bought in 1959 from a farmer and the registry is in the name of the Sangh. In 1984 when all the land in that area was acquired for the International Airport, the Sangh land too was acquired. However, it was never taken possession of. According to the new and old law, when land is not taken possession of in five years of the acquisition, then the land goes back to the original holder”.
Meanwhile, several concerned citizens and members of civil society, have condemn the Rajasthan government act, and requested the JDA and the Chief Minister “to restore the land and the premises back to the Sangh”. “In the eventuality of this not happening, we will resist it tooth and nail and struggle against this high handedness of the Government and expose the Government for its assault on Gandhian institutions and values”, a plea signed by 50 prominent citizens said. Those who have signed include Prem Krishan Sharma of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Rajasthan; right to information activist Aruna Roy, Radha Kant Saxena, Nikhil Dey, Kavita Srivastava, Shankar Singh, Renuka Pamecha, Mamta Jaitly, others.