After Maoists, Chhattisgarh DGP seeks land reforms in Bastar

While Maoists have often demanded land reforms as a pre-condition to laying down arms, Chhattisgarh Director General of Police (DGP) Ramniwas has also expressed concern at "illegal" acquisition of land belonging to tribals, and its adverse effect on the socio-economic and law and order situation in the state. Stating that the country has ignored Bastar tribals, he has said that the "very foundation" to address their concerns is "missing".

Pushing for "much-needed land reforms" to mitigate "severe injustices in land rights", Ramniwas, in a book that he has edited — titled Land Scenario in Chhattisgarh, dedicated to the "memory of millions of tribals who have suffered the dispossession most" — has said, "Chhattisgarh, being a new state, is witnessing a momentous transformation, no less due to rapid urbanisation-industrialisation affecting socio-economic, cultural and agricultural scenario...Plotting is rampant and a whole new class of landlords has come to rule the roost. Even from the viewpoint of criminology, without getting into the intricacies of builder-bureaucrat-politician nexus, one can safely vouch for the need of some urgent healing measures, of regulatory nature."

Stating that his observations were derived from his "on-field postings in Indian Police Service", he has noted, "Unfortunately, the very foundation is missing to start the homework for such interventions due to peculiar circumstances of public policy and academic discourse in the state."

Speaking to The Indian Express, the DGP stressed that the neglect of the tribal zone must end. "Bastar is providing oxygen to the entire country. The country should think about its tribal residents. People have emotional attachment with their land and river," he said, while refusing to comment on the core Maoists' demand for stopping acquisition of tribal land in Bastar for industrialisation.

In the book, Ramniwas has claimed that he was also a victim of forcible land acquisition. "As a child, I saw and felt dispossession due to land acquisition. Later on, toiling in the fields as the elder son of a farming-teacher couple, I developed a keen interest in land rights and land-use planning," he has said.

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