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Radha Soami Beas Accused of Encroachment
By ANJU AGNIHOTRI CHABA
The Indian Express, Bhutala/Dhilwan (Kapurthala), May 9, 2006
Photo: Gurinder Singh Dhillon, current head of Radha Soami Beas and nephew of the previous head, Charan Singh
Farmers of four villages of Kapurthala district have accused the Radha Soami dera in Beas of encroaching upon 2,200 acres of their land by slowly changing the course of the Beas river with the help of illegal studs and bundhs [dams].
The farmers of Bhutala, Mand Dhilawan, Bhaini and Chako-Ki villages allege that the bundhs have resulted in water flowing toward their land, because of which a large part of their land is now toward the dera side [of the river]. They further allege that the dera people have banned their entry in their own land by constructing gates and now claim that the land belongs to the dera. Bhutala is the worst-affected, as it has reportedly lost nearly 1,200 acres to the Dera, said the farmers. Talking to E.N.S., the farmers said they have approached the authorities several times, but in vain.
When contacted, the revenue department officials admitted that the land of four villages was now across the river owing to continuous flow of river water toward these villages. They also showed a map in which the village land is clearly marked as toward the dera side. The officials said they have forwarded the case to the financial commissioner (revenue) in Chandigarh.
Gurmail Singh, member of Zila Parishad, Dhilwan, alleged that the dera people have been encroaching upon the land of the farmers for years now. Rattan Singh, former sarpanch [head] of Bhutala village, said a stretch of nine k.m. land belonging to the four villages has been encroached and now they were forced to sell their land at throwaway prices, while the government price of the same land was Rs. 2 lakh [Rs. 200,000] per acre.
The farmers have also formed a 'Jameen Bachao Committee.' President of the committee, Mohan Singh Bal, demanded that either the district administration should help them get their land back or give them adequate compensation. He also demanded that to protect the farmers' land from further erosion, about 10 studs should be constructed along the Beas river so that the flow of water cannot be changed.
When contacted, the deputy commissioner of Kapurthala, Raminder Singh, said he would have to check the records before giving any statement.