Over 5,000 people in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district, battling against the acquisition of land by a state power utility, have written letters to authorities seeking permission to die, a farmers’ body leader on Wednesday claimed.
Narendrasinh Gohil, a local farmer and a member of Gujarat Khedut Samaj (an organization fighting for farmers’ rights) claimed “A total of 5,259 people, comprising farmers and their family members from 12 affected villages, have sought “icchha mrityu (right to die) as the land they cultivate is being forcibly snatched by the state government and Gujarat Power Corporation Limited (GPCL), the letters, signed by these farmers and their kin, have been sent to the President of India, the Prime Minister and the chief minister of Gujarat.”
Harshad Patel, Bhavnagar’s Collector, said that “the farmers had dropped these letters, in which they have demanded permission for “icchha mrityu”, at the registry branch of the collectorate.”
The registry branch receives and dispatches all the letters of the collectorate.
In the letter, the farmers accused the state government, and GPCL, of using police force to get them to vacate the land which the farmers claimed was being tilled by them for several years now.
The farmers alleged that GPCL was trying to possess the land more than 20 years after the power firm had acquired it, adding that such a move was against the law.
Gohil said “As per the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, a company cannot take possession of a land which it had acquired more than five years ago. To possess such a land, it will have to initiate the process of acquisition afresh, on two occasions; the police have fired tear gas on a peaceful gathering of farmers. We are being threatened and bullied by the government; the district administration has imposed section 144 of the CrPC, a provision prohibiting any assembly of persons the authorities’ term unlawful, in the 12 villages since over a month now.”
The letter claimed “GPCL and Gujarat government want to usurp our land, despite the land legally belonging to the farmers. What shall we do in such a situation? If we do not have cultivable land, we shall be as good as dead,”
The farmers said in the letters, “We wish for this because we have been made to feel like terrorists by the authority. So my last wish is to be killed at the hands of the Army”