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Zameen Samadhi Satyagraha: Why scores of farmers in a Rajasthan village are burying themselves in neck-deep pits

Scores of farmers have been staging a unique protest in Rajasthan — Zameen Samadhi Satyagraha — for the last five days in Ninder village near Jaipur to oppose the acquisition of land by the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) for a residential project.

As part of the protest, which was preceded by a 14-day sit-in dharna, farmers have "buried" themselves in neck-deep pits.

What the protest is all about?

 Zameen Samadhi Satyagraha: Why scores of farmers in a Rajasthan village are burying themselves in neck-deep pits

Farmers protesting at Ninder village. Image courtesy: Twitter / @ashokgehlot51

Protesting farmers claim local authorities forcibly acquired their land and offered them rates dating back to 2010 as compensation. They are accusing the authorities of being unsympathetic to their cause, and are demanding better compensation for their land.

"We are here to demand better rates for our land. What the government is offering us is not enough. The cost of land is much higher than it was before," an elderly farmer told NDTV on Wednesday.

As per the plan, JDA was to acquire over 1,300 bighas of land to develop a housing scheme in Jaipur. So far, it has taken possession of 600 bighas of land.

"We started our 'Zameen Samadhi Satyagraha' on 2 October and at present, at least 50 farmers have buried themselves neck-deep in pits. Nearly half of these are women," Nagendra Singh Shekhawat, convenor of Ninder Bachao Yuva Kisan Sangarsh Samiti, told IANS.

"Nearly 5,000 families, including farmers, will be affected by the acquisition," Al-Jazeera quoted Shekhawat as saying.

He said farmers who participated in the protest on a rotation basis, came out of the pit only to attend nature's call every day. "We will continue with the agitation till our demand is met," Shekhawat said.

What are the farmers' demands?

"We are against the acquisition of land by the JDA... we want it to be revoked," said a farmer buried neck-deep in a pit.

The farmers are also demanding a fresh survey of the land. They are demanding the compensation and acquisition as per the new Land Acquisition Act, according to Al-Jazeera.

The farmers, according to The Times of India, have demanded they assess the income of the families and impact on their lives after land acquisition.

The government's response

The villagers have been holding demonstrations for better compensation since mid-September, but there has been no response from the government, they said.

The authorities, according to The Indian Express, called the convenor of Ninder Bachao Yuva Kisan Sangarsh Samiti for talks only when two protesting women collapsed during the agitation.

The Jaipur Development Commissioner (JDC) Vaibhav Galeriya on Friday accepted the demand of Ninder village farmers to conduct a fresh survey of their land, according to The Times of India.

The report added that a committee will be constituted comprising the district collector, JDA officials and Ninder farmers to carry out a fresh survey.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Oct 06, 2017 15:22:17 IST