Constituent Assembly Debates

Bhagat Ram Sharma on ‘land to tillers’: Constituent Assembly debates

A group photograph of the Members of the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir

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 Ram Sharma, Member Constituent Assembly

Bhagat Ram Sharma: Hon’ble President, I agree with the recommendations of the Committee, and support it. Further I submit Sir that the Committee amongst various other reasons for non-payment of compensation, has also submitted that we would look to the principle of equal distribution of wealth. Therefore, land was distributed first. On one side are the tillers to whom land has been given, and on the other are the Chakdars who have been expropriated. The Committee in this respect could make its report more concise. We know that 182 kanals of land still remains with the affected Chakdar. He is authorized to select these 182 kanals out of thousands of kanals of land according to his choice. I wish the Committee could record the facts and figures regarding the average amount of land possessed by each cultivator from where it could have been possible to ascertain as to how much land has been given to each cultivator, and whether or not it is possible for him to make his both ends meet out of the income of land so allotted. So far as the question of cultivators is concerned there is no denying the fact that they are not getting even their daily requirements from this land. The reason is that the cultivator has still been left at the mercy of the Chakdars. Whenever a cultivator does anything against the wishes of a Chakdar he (Chakdar) selects the plot of land of that particular cultivator for his own cultivation, thereby depriving the cultivator from his holding The state of affairs in regard to the cultivator is the same as it was some time back. The cultivators, as has already been stated before are still at the mercy of Chakdars with regard to those plots of land which are near their houses on which the whole family of he cultivator used to live. Even this law has not feed the cultivator from the clutches of the Chakdar, because it still rest with the Chakdar to give or not to give any plot of land to a certain cultivator. On these grounds I would submit Sir, that the question of compensation does not arise and that the recommendations made by the Hon’ble members are perfectly justified.

So far as the question of equal distribution of wealth is concerned it still remains unsolved. Thee are persons who desire that compensation for land should be given. Our learned friend Wazir ram Saran Das has expressed similar ideas in respect of payment of compensation. He is of opinion that such of he Chakdars as are old, minors and widows should be granted maintenance allowance. I put a direct question to Wazir Sahib, while advocating the cause of Chakdars he has not taken into consideration the condition of those poor people, children, aged persons and widows who have not even tow kanals of land. I ask, who has to fight for the cause of the latter class of people and on whom does this responsibility rest? So far the chakdars are concerned they have already selected according to their desire 182 kanals of land out of thousands of kanals and still anxiety is being expressed on their behalf. Similarly minor Chakdars and widows have also selected land for themselves and the same is being cultivated by the cultivators and they are regularly realizing good amount of rent from such lands. In my opinion it would have been just and equitable if the cultivators would have been permitted to select land for themselves but unfortunately this has to not been permitted to selected land for themselves but unfortunately this has not been done. In addition to 182 kanals of land and the Chakdars have got thousands of kanals of land in the form of orchards while compensation is being demanded from the poor cultivators who possess very little of land. If investigation is conducted even on the present basis of the land held by the landlords it will be evident that they have got fictitious entries made in the name of their servants and consequently are still in possession of that land. Such cultivators are still at the mercy of big landlords. Today it is said that minors and aged people should be given maintenance allowance. I will submit Sir, that there are hundreds of thousands of cultivators who support minors and widows and who inspite of putting in a large amount of labour are not able to earn even eight annas or a rupee day. The Jagirdars have again usurped lands and have been sucking their blood. In view of this how far is their demand for compensation justified? They must keep in view the way the wind is blowing. They have already selected 182 kanals of land and can we still say that this land is insufficient for their maintenance? They demand that compensation be paid to them from the Government Treasury. I will submit Sir, that this is in no way proper and that no compensation should be paid to them.


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