The Government of Jammu and Kashmir headed by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah as Prime Minister carried out land reforms in 1950 through Big Landed Estates Abolition Act. The ‘land to tillers’ triggered the question of compensation to the landlords which was not provided in the original Act. This question was left to the Constituent Assembly to decide.
The Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir, in November 1951, framed a Committee under Revenue Minister Mirza Afzal Beg to decide this question. In March 1952, the Mirza Afzal Beg committee presented its report before the Constituent Assembly which was put to debate by the members. Following thorough discussion and speeches by almost all members, the Constituent Assembly approved the Committee’s suggestions that no compensation was to be paid to big landed landlords whose land was expropriate and distributed among the tillers.
Below is full transcript of the speech by Bhagat Chhaju Ram, Member Constituent Assembly
Bhagat Chhaju Ram: Mr. President, I support the report of the land Compensation Committee which has been presented to the House by Hon’ble M.A.Beg and wherein it has been recommended that no compensation should be paid to Zamindars. I have personal experience in this behalf because I had the occasion of being closely in touch with the cultivators. I have witnessed the Landlords squeezing the blood of poor cultivators, who were named as “means” by such big proprietors under whose thumb they used to work. I do not think there is any need to pay compensation to expropriated landlords. They have already obtained good profit from the cultivators, they have obtained not only the grains from them, but for the sake of their own financial interests they used to over-awe them in different ways. The proprietors had usurped the rights of the tillers, at the time of he distribution of the land in the world. But all the same those persons who were active and intelligent availed of the opportunity and did not give chance to the cultivators to acquire land.
My Hon’ble friends, have said much about the way these landlords acquired land. I do not want to say anything further in this behalf. While quoting an example one of my honorable friends has explained as to how an ordinary business man acquired possession of thousands of kanals of land. Besides let me submit further that since the date of enforcement of big Landed Estates Abolition Act three crops have been reaped, and the proprietors who have surrendered their lands in favour of the Government, have earned profit out of it not in thousands but in lacs. In this connection I shall quote an example of one Maghar Singh who has similarly earned a profit of at least six thousand rupees. Sir, just imagine how a country can prosper where on one side there are people who have no clothes to wear and on the other side there are landlords who lead the life of luxury and profligacy. But the law of the Nature provides that if the people themselves do not change this inequitable distribution of wealth, such conditions will always be present wherever such mal-distribution hold the day. The resolution moved aims at eh betterment and well-being of forty lacs people of one State. The untold miseries inflicted upon the Harijans cultivators of the Jammu and Kashmir State, whom I represent, are indescribable.
The report submitted as well as the announcement made by Sheri-Kashmir is a welcome step. In short I am of the opinion that no compensation be paid to these big landlords and Chakdars. With these words I support the report of the Committee as presented to the House.