Dhan Bahadur BK’s family in Khalanga after being evicted from their own land. Pics: Hari Gautam
HARI GAUTAM in RUKUM in Himal Khabarpatrika, 15-21 May (Centre for Investigative Journalism)
Afer the end of the Maoist war most displaced familes returned to their villages, but Dhan Bahadur BK had to abandon his village in Rukum district not because of the war, but because it ended.
One morning in 2010 four years after the ceasefire, BK was harvesting his wheat crop when his neighbour Tauke Kami stopped him, claiming to be the rightful owner of the land he had been tilling for the last six years.
In 2004, BK had bought the land for Rs 173,000 from Rane Kami. The sale was not registered at the local Land Revenue Office, but at the local Maoist parallel government. With the signing of the peace deal in 2006, all the land transfers authorised by the Maoist government became invalid. Rane Kami was still the owner of the land he had sold to BK, and he sold it again to Tauke Kami. This time, the transfer was duly registered at the government office.
When BK refused to leave the property, Tauke Kami lodged a case against him at the Rukum district court. The court declared Kami as the rightful owner, and BK left the village and lives as a landless squatter in Khalanga.
BK repeatedly requested Baburam Bhattarai, who was the chief of the Maoist government, and Janardan Sharma, a top Maoist leader from Rukum, to help him regain his property. “But they did not understand my problem,” he says. “I regret trusting the Maoists.”
The land Man Bahadur Khatri (second from left) purchased from Padam Bahadur Batha was registered with the Maoist Janasatta in 2003. The district court invalidated the transaction under the Maoist ‘People’s Government’ and ruled against Man Bahadur, but he refuses to give up the land and claims that his family has been victimised.
In Rukum district alone, at least 3,500 families are in danger of losing their land titles of property bought during the war. “The court doesn’t recognise land titles given by the Maoists,” explains advocate Yakka Bahadur Pandey.
People throng the local Maoist party office every day, complaining that they have lost their land titles. Gopal Sharma, a local Maoist leader, admits that people are suffering because land ownership certificates distributed by their war-time ‘parallel-government’ are not considered valid.
Locals from Khara picket the UCPN-M office in Khalanga, Rukum. The fifth of the nine points of a deal that Prime Minister KP Oli signed with UCPN (M) Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal early this month is about this issue. In return for Dahal’s renewed support for his government, Oli has agreed to validate land transfers made during the war.
The fifth of the nine points of a deal that Prime Minister KP Oli signed with UCPN (M) Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal early this month is about this issue. In return for Dahal’s renewed support for his government, Oli has agreed to validate land transfers made during the war.
Gopal Sharma says: ‘The party failed its people. It is up to the leaders at the centre to find a solution.”
The District Development Committee of Rukum formed an all-party taskforce to solve the problem, which failed because most of those who had sold their property during the war denied the transactions.
A land entitlement paper signed and approved by the then ‘People’s Government’- Janasatta.
In January 2012, the Maoist government led by Baburam Bhattarai decided to validate registration of conflict-era land transactions his party made. But the Supreme Court, acting on a writ petition, quashed the government’s decision. Ironically, the UML, which has now agreed to validate conflict-era land transactions to save its government, had disrupted Parliament to oppose the Bhattarai government’s decision back then.
Says UCPN(M) district member Birkha Bahadur Bista, who was one of the chief land transfer administrators of the Maoist parallel government in Rukum. “The locals who trusted us are now in big trouble. It is the fault of our leaders who took the decision and are now unable to implement it.”
District in Distress
The number of house/land transfers under the Maoist Janasatta in Rukum
- No VDC Number
1 Duli 353
2 Pipal 324
3 Garayala 242
4 Purtimkanda 231
5 Magma 230
6 Arma 200
7 Kholagaun 198
8 Khara 198
9 Banfikot 169
10 Simli 153
11 Gotamkot 145
12 Syalakhadi 121
13 Rungha 117
14 Athbiskot 115
15 Nuwakot 101
16 Kotjahari 92
17 Chunbang 91
18 Athbisdandagaun 82
19 Sankh 74
20 Jhula 62
21 Bijayshwari 56
22 Chaukhawang 51
23 Syalapakha 39
24 Mhat 23
25 Chhiwang 21
26 Bhalakcha 19
27 Muru 13
28 Rukumkot 10
29 Pwang 9
30 Pokhara 8
31 Jang 7
32 Ghetma 7
33 Morawang 6
34 Peugha 4
35 Kol 2
Court case losers
- No. Name Address Price when bought
1 Til Bahadur Kami Syalapakha -7, Rukum Rs 30,000
2 Hari Bahadur Malla Gotamkot-2, Rukum Rs 52,000
3 Khale Bhandari “ Rs 42,000
4 Kali Kami/Dhan Bdr BK Garayala-5, Rukum Rs 173,000
5 Maite Kami Khara-7, Rukum Rs 700,000
6 Man Bdr/Bishnu Khatri Khara-8, Rukum Rs 14,000
7 Lile Khatri Kholagaun-7, Rukum Rs 30,000
8 Yam Bdr Sunar Kotjahari-3, Rukum Rs 1,000,000
9 Chitra Bdr Oli Khara-8, Rukum Rs 350,000
10 Padam Bdr Khatri Khara-6, Rukum Rs 180,000
11 Dal Bdr Bohora Nayakbada-3, Jajarkot Rs 165,000
Read the original story in Himal Khabarpatrika and www.cijnepal.org.np
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