Yogi government's land transfer policy for Dalits draws backlash

The proposed policy would obviate the need to seek permission of the District Magistrate for purchasing lands from SC/ST landholders.
Yogi Adityanath, CM, Uttar Pradesh
Yogi Adityanath, CM, Uttar PradeshPic- social media

Lucknow— The Uttar Pradesh government has released the Uttar Pradesh Township Policy-2023. According to the draft provisions of the policy, people willing to buy land from SC/ST landholders need not seek permission from the District Magistrate. Under Section 98(1) of the Uttar Pradesh Revenue Code, 2006, which was implemented with the publication of the Uttar Pradesh Revenue Code Rules, 2016, “No bhumidhar (landowner) belonging to a Scheduled Caste shall have the right to transfer, by way of sale, gift, mortgage, or lease any land to a person not belonging to a Scheduled Caste, except with the previous permission of the Collector”.

The District Magistrate was empowered to transfer land under five specific conditions:

  • If the Scheduled caste landholder has no surviving heir.

  • If the person has settled or is ordinarily resident in a different district or state.

  • If the person or a member of their family is suffering from a fatal disease.

  • If the person is seeking permission to transfer in order to purchase other land.

  • If the land held by the applicant on the date of the application does not, after such transfer, reduce to less than 1.26 hectares.

Prior to 2016, under Section 157-A of the Zamindari Abolition Act, a person of Scheduled Caste had no right to transfer their land by sale, gift, mortgage or lease to a person other than non-Scheduled Caste except with the prior approval of the Collector.

A conspiracy to make the Dalits landless?

The proposed policy of the government is under attack from Dalits and Human Rights Organizations. The Mooknayak spoke to S.R. Darapuri, Former IPS Officer, and National President of All India Peoples Front. He said that the objective behind the permission of the D.M. was to prevent the easy selling of lands belonging to Dalits.

Former IPS officer S. R. Darapuri believes that doing away with the permission of DM can make the Dalits landless
Former IPS officer S. R. Darapuri believes that doing away with the permission of DM can make the Dalits landless

He said that Dalits sell their land for various reasons like medical needs and lack of irrigation sources. Dispelling the notion that this step will benefit the Dalits, the former IPS officer pointed out that before 2016, the land policy prevented Dalits from selling their lands to non-Dalits, but the Samajwadi Party government led by Akhilesh Yadav removed that restriction and after that, the lands of Dalits were sold in large numbers. Land is a permanent asset and is very scarce with the Dalits, and once people get money, they spend it mindlessly as most of them don’t know how to invest the money properly. He feared that now the lands of Dalits can be grabbed by cajoling, persuasion, or even threatening by the mafias.

Chandra Shekhar Azad, Bhim Army chief
Chandra Shekhar Azad, Bhim Army chief

Bhim Army warns movement

Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Azad deplored the township policy by saying “our ancestors toiled hard to make the land fertile, but the rulers and feudals grabbed the land through force and feint. Baba Saheb Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar also campaigned to get back the land during the freedom struggle. The government post-independence had promised to do justice with the deprived through land reforms.” Kanshiram Sahib also said that “Jo Zameen Sarkari hai, woh Zameen hamari hai. (The land which belongs to the government is ours) But the new declaration by the Yogi Government is a conspiracy to transfer the land of Dalits to Feudals. We won’t let this happen and will hit the streets against this land-grabbing policy. "It seems that the Yogi government will find it hard to push through this particular clause of the proposed policy and may have to reconsider its decision."

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