Following pitched protests by Dalit farmers of Devarapalle village in Andhra’s Prakasam district, the Andhra government has decided to return 22 acres of land that it had acquired for an irrigation project.
Social Welfare Minister Nakka Anand Babu announced on Monday at a meeting in Deverapalle that the government will return the land to the farmers.
Addressing the gathering, the Minister said that Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu took the decision to honor the rights of the Dalit farmers to their land.
“The Chief Minister directed me to meet you and announce that no farmer will be forcibly evicted from their land. All the eligible pattadars will be issued pattas afresh and be given possession of the land,” Anand Babu was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
The Minister further directed the local Revenue Divisional Officer to personally oversee the granting of pattas and handover the land within the next four or five days, reported TOI.
On July 21, government officials evicted 40 Dalits families and took possession of 22 acres of land for an irrigation project. While the government had maintained that the land was poramboke land, the Dalit farmers claimed that they had received the lands for undergoing family planning surgeries in the 1970s and had been cultivating the land since then.
The eviction had sparked widespread outrage from opposition leaders and rights activists, which turned the village into a centre of agitation.
Following the agitation, National SC/ST Commission member K Ramulu had visited the evicted families, and recommended that the government give back the lands to them.