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Hunger strike over land row

Patna, Feb. 12: The unrest over the settlement of 1024.52 acres of land in Digha resurfaced today with hundreds of landowners and residents resorting to hunger strike and anti-government sloganeering near Ashiana canal, where a person was killed during a similar protest in 1996.

Around 200 people, including women, participated in the daylong (10am to 5pm) hunger strike under the banner of Digha Krishi Bhumi-Awas Bachao Sangharsh Samiti in protest against the policy framework of Bihar State Housing Board (BSHB) aimed at settlement of the plots.

A report in a vernacular daily claiming that houses on 400 acres of land on the western side of the Digha- Ashiana Road would be demolished and those on 600 acres on the eastern side of the road would be regularised sparked the fresh protest.

“We want our 1024.52 acres of land to be freed from the acquisition of housing board. The proposed policy of the state government is a ‘Black Policy’. Our only demand is to rollback the policy. Otherwise, our protest will continue,” said Manoranjan Prasad Singh, the chairman of Digha Krishi Bhumi-Awas Bachao Sangharsh Samiti.

Several protesters seemed to be in the dark about the actual provisions of the proposed policy. “We have learnt about the rules through newspapers and from what people are saying. Though I am not sure, I believe my house at Nepali Nagar (on the western side of Ashiana-Digha Road) would be demolished. That is why I am protesting the new rules,” said Roshan Kumar, a protester amid slogans “Sushil Modi murdabad (Sushil Modi down-down)”, “Digha jameen ko adhigrahan se mukt karo (Free Digha land from acquisition)”, “Khoon bahega - aan denge, Jameen-Makaan nahi denge (Blood will flow, we would give our lives, but we will not give away our land and houses)” and “Housing board murdabad (Housing board down-down)”.

A political angle was observed in the agitation today. Ram Chandra Purve, the state president of the RJD, while sitting on the dharna spot told The Telegraph: “The RJD supports the demand of Digha-Rajeev Nagar residents. We will take the matter from roads to the Bihar Legislative Council.”

Satyanand Sharma, the general secretary of the LJP, said: “Our party also supports the demand of the residents. Our party president Ram Vilas Paswan will raise the issue in Lok Sabha.”

The Telegraph in its January 21, 2012 edition had reported that the state urban development department had finalised the proposed rules. According to them, people who have built their houses by encroaching upon the 600 acres of land acquired by BSHB would be regularised only after they paid the penalty.