Maoist cadres, landholders complicate Gothatar land row

Kathmandu, October 31:

The rift over 300 ropanis of land owned by the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT) at Gothatar Village Development Committee-3 became complicated after a few persons identifying themselves as landless, claimed a share of the land.

Around 300 people claiming to be landless encroached the land and built huts for a month. The police and locals of Gothatar set fire to around 300 huts on 27 October to vacate the land. A clash ensued between police, Gothatar locals and the “landless people” when the “landless people” resisted and refused to go out of their huts. Such clashes continued till today. Around 30 people were injured.

“There were only around 300 people to claim for the land. But, now the list has gone up to around 3,500. Many hukumbasi (people who have land in any part of the country) also claimed share of the land identifying themselves as sukumbasi (landless people). We are trying to find out the actual sukusbasi and hukumbasi,” Dev Rai, a Maoist cadre, said.

“Actually, we built huts on the land as Maoist told us that sukumbasi will be provided with some land,” 46 -year- old Poonam Lama said. “They are telling us not to step back and fight for the land,” she added. According to her, there were just a handful of people occupying the land some 15 days ago. “After word spread that sukumbasi will be given the land, many people, including those who own land and houses in Kathmandu, came to claim the land,” she said.

She said that there has been a heavy presence of Maoists after the first clash between the police and the hut owners . Rai talked to this reporter. He said they (Maoists) came there to solve the issue. “I am here for 27 days to solve the issue. What we think is landless people should be given the land as this plot of public land has been useless for years,” Rai said. He said that they would first find out who are the real sukumbasis and fight for the land.

However, a few landless people are alleging that the Maoist are trying to get some land for their party cadres in the guise of fighting for the landless people “I have heard that Maoist are also trying to provide some land to the family of those who were killed battles with t with the Police and Nepali Army,” a middle-aged man, who didn’t want to be named, told this reporter.

Arjun Raymajhi, 23, who hailed all the way from Udaypur, said that he was fighting for the rights of the landless But he also said he owns some land in Udaypur and he has no land in Kathmandu.

Shyam Shekhar Jha, director at the PADT, said what all that they wanted was to preserve the public land.