Kutch farmers get lip service from ministers at Guru Nanak jayanti

Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama on Wednesday assured the Sikh farmers of Kutch district that they would get their "rights" as they too had contributed in the development of the state.

"Sikhs living in any corner of Gujarat are Gujaratis in the first place. (They are) the soul of Gujarat. Sikhs have contributed for the development of Gujarat and, thereby, of Kutch. Therefore, the Sikh farmers of Kutch will get their rights," a government release quoted Chudasama on Wednesday.

The senior minister was speaking at the celebrations of Guru Nanak Jayanti in Lakhpat village of Kutch which saw a gathering of thousands of Sikhs. The Minister of State for Law and Justice, Pradip Chudasama, and BJP MP from Amritsar, Navjot Singh Sidhu, were also present at the event.

But the release did not specify what rights the minister was referring to. Sikh farmer leaders said the minister did not give any specific assurance about the ongoing issue of freezing their land accounts.

Talking to The Indian Express over phone, Chudasama said, "Rights of those who have been alloted land by the state government between 1964 and 1984 would be protected. But those who are not agriculturalist and those who are recognised by agriculturalists in other states cannot, according laws of Gujart, purchase agricultural land in Gujarat. However, the matter is sub-judice and we shall abide by the verdict of the Supreme Court."

The Sikh farmers were not being singled out as land accounts of farmers originally from Gujarat and a few other states were among the total 784 frozen by the state government, he added.

"We had a closed door meeting with the two ministers and Sidhu. We requested the state government to withdraw its petition from the Supreme Court and implement the Gujarat High Court order. But Chudasama refused to give any answer," Surinder Singh Bhullar, leader of Sikh farmers of Kutch said.

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