Bangladesh is basically an agriculture country and the income derived from this sector fuels the biggest portion of the country's economy. Two thirds of the populations are engaged in agricultural sector. Eighty percent of the country’s population lived in the rural communities. Rural poverty remained more extensive than urban poverty which further worsen the economic condition of the rural poor and resulted to fragmentation of landownership. Land conflict becomes widespread especially among khasland (government-owned land) areas between landless people (comprising of marginal farmers, women-headed family, religio-ethnic minorities, and hardcore poor) and vested interest groups (landlords, rich landowners and shrimp operators) in connivance with corrupt government officials including police, UP leaders, political leaders etc whose prime motive is to uproot the landless people from their homestead in the khasland.
Generally, the landless people are facing with tremendous struggle to depend and realize their inherent rights on their land. They suffered worst forms of legal and human rights violations and abuses. Many of them including the leaders were imprisoned for no valid complaints and without due process of law. Many houses were either burnt or demolished, crops were stolen or destroyed and including the never-ending harassment by filing cases one after another were vehemently experienced by the landless people including NGO leaders who supported their cause. It also includes unleashed torture and abuses, murder, brute atrocities and other grievous human rights violations. Many documented cases of warrant-less arrest and torture among the landless people have been taken place in various khasland areas. Some landless leaders and members were reportedly murdered and missing without a trace. A number of these incidents were left unheard and undocumented. These are just among the brutalities inflicted among the poor landless people’s communities. Most of the landless people are either have very least knowledge or know nothing on khasland, more so on their rights and legal processes underlying khasland distribution and ownership. For this reason, in most cases, they are bullied by their culprits and always at the losing end position.
In the Southwest region of Bangladesh, the inhabitants are currently enduring the problems of landlessness and very limited access to land, waters and other vital resources. They are considered as absolutely or functionally landless where land continues to remain their principal means of production and income source. Today, the situation has become more complicated due to aggressive growth of the shrimp industry. All knowing that the region is the shrimp basket of the country which shares 7.2% or worth $290 million annually to the country’s exports. While the economic basket is at merry-making due to shrimp revenue, the majority poor especially in the coastal region are in agony of the ill effects of the industry. The industry has been deprecated with various worst forms of human rights abuses and exploitation from among the landless people (mostly belonging to ethnic and outcaste minority groups) on their khasland claims and rights. It has aggressively violating the land rights of the small landholders using coercive tactics and violence to force poor marginal farmers to give up their agricultural land and evict them from their khasland homestead. It has further contributed to increase food insecurity due to massive conversion of agricultural land to shrimp production that diminished most land area for rice and food production. Hence, the hardest hit is the poor landless inhabitants of the region.
As a fine revisiting, a significant number of laws have been promulgated that could be traced out in the following instruments namely Bengal Regulation XI 1825, Bengal Alluvion Act 1868, Government Estates Manual 1919, Bengal Crown Estates Manual 1932, East Bengal Acquisition and Tenancy Act 1950, The Bangladesh State Acquisition and Tenancy (4th Amendment) Order 1972 (PO 135), Bangladesh Landholding Limitation Order 1972 (PO 98), Presidential Order LXI 1975, Land Reform Action Programme 1987, Agriculture Khasland Management and Settlement Policy 1997 including many other related Memos and Circulars. The Land Reform Action Program 1987 (LRAP ’87) asserted that about 800,000 of land await for their settlement. It is said that country’s total amount of khasland is 3.3 million acres. Although fixation of maximum ceiling of land has been set (from 100 bighas to 60 bighas as Land Reform 1984), nothing has been substantially changed. Because of considerable loopholes and absence of legal protection, the vested interest groups especially the landlords and rich landholders were able to manipulate the whole process by dividing their landholding to their relatives or using dummies through falsification of the land transfer and ownership. Besides, the corrupt government officials favored them due to explicit bribery which derailed the full realization the land reform. Subsequent government land reforms were promulgated to ensure an equitable use of land and equitable distribution of income; in order to increase national output, to utilize the full productive capacity of the land; to rehabilitate landless farmers and to create job opportunities for them as well to infuse a new life in rural economy; and reduce ovaries of population towards the urban areas from rural areas and to create an atmosphere which will attract them to live in a village. To resolve complications, the government has redefined the “landless” as family without homestead but depends on agriculture and/or family with homestead but depends on agriculture. In 16th May 1997, new categories on khasland distribution have been put in-placed. Despite this redefinitions of landless and categorization, the quest of the khasland distribution is difficult to achieve due to corruption, politicking and lack of political will from the government and present influence of the vested interest groups. In fact, the Land Reforms Action Program 1987 (LRAP’87) recognizes the widespread illegal occupancy and urgent need for recovery of those lands. Large amount of khasland is presently under the possession of illegal occupants and the government is deprived of the revenue; and the government’s control needs to be established after physical identification and recovery.1
Given the aforementioned legal instruments on khasland, nothing has been significantly done on the land reform initiatives especially on khasland issue and at improving the condition of the landless people. It seems that these legal instruments have no teeth at all and just a tired cliché. The plight of the landless people has not been improved due to escalating trap of legalities and complexities of the processes of khasland distribution and ownership. Moreover, landlessness and khasland issue has manifold dimensions and underground details to dig-out to fully capture and understand the underlying factors behind; and finding the entry points and opportunities for all actors especially among NGOs and civil society is imperative to create access and establish the legitimate rights of the landless people.
The Historical Background of the Land Movement
The khasland movement of the landless people has emerged as united force to create access and establish their ownership right on land. The movement became an effective vehicle to fight against the mighty culprits -- landlords, their stooges and the power structures that enslave them for a long time.
In greater Khulna, there are about 150,214.64 acres of khasland which includes agriculture, non-agriculture, water bodies etc. The landless people are now fighting for their legitimate right and claim to these khaslands which are mostly under the control of illegal occupants with the aid of forged ownership documents and coercive tactics.
As a review of the historical background 2, the fate of the landless people fell into bloody confrontation and atrocities as what had happened in Baburabad, under Kaligonj-Debhata Upazila of Satkhira district. On the 1950s during the abolition of Zamindari System a total of 3178 acres of land in area including adjacent villages came under the ownership of the State. But the vested interest groups continued their possession on the khasland through the loopholes of the laws. This was again declared as khasland in 1972 and efforts were made to distribute these lands to the landless people. However, the vested interest groups managed to remain in possession of the land through illegal means. In 1985, the land was again declared as khasland and the distribution efforts to landless took place. This time the interest groups managed to change the category of the land from khasland to waterbody through collaboration with some corrupt government officials and greedy political elites. In this connection, it is noteworthy that in the declaration of 1984, only agricultural khasland are to be distributed among the landless people. Forestry land, waterbody and other non-agricultural land is not subject for distribution to the landless claimants. In the meantime, as a result of a ruling by the higher court, the rights of the vested interests in a portion of this land were nullified. Grasping this opportunity, hundreds of families of landless people who were alienated from their lands by the expansion of shrimp cultivation in the Southwest region came and settled on those lands.
In 1997, when the previous ruling of the higher court was reversed, the vested interest groups obtained lease through unfair and illegal means. After obtaining the lease, they made alliance with corrupt local level government officials and local police in association with the hired thugs of the landgrabbers attacked the landless people in those lands on May 10, 1998 which aimed to evict the landless families from their homestead in the khasland. The attack resulted to the destruction of 265 houses, their valuables were plundered and hundreds of people were injured. The reaction of the NGO and civil society was immediate and forceful to the incident. NGO and Civil society members of Satkhira condemned the inhuman atrocities. Many criminal cases and counter-cases were filed. In order to prevent the repetition of the incident, the landless people began to organize themselves. They also appealed to the then Prime Minister of the Republic. But their appeal was in vain and was not seriously considered which encouraged the vested interest groups with supports from corrupt local officials, formed a hired mercenary force armed with different weapons and assisted by the local police, again attacked Baburabad on July 27 of the same year. By that time, the organized landless resisted the attack amidst indiscriminate firing that killed Jaheda (a landless leader and mother of five) and 229 others, most of them are women and children, were seriously injured. In the stampede that followed the firing, two infants were drowned to death in nearby canal.
The incident had created mass outraged followed by intense protest and blockade in the district administration premises. The death of Jaheda generated public sympathy especially among the landless and fuels to reactivate their long-silenced movement. Hence, the landless people with support from Uttaran formed a strong multi-sectoral movement called Satkhira Landless Resistance Movement which acts as the focal body on behalf of the landless. The movement has mobilized thousands of landless and other people from all walks of life in the region on the week-long rally that paralyzed the whole Satkhira town and aided by tremendous media mileage both at the local and national level aftermath massive public outcry throughout the country. As a result, the then Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the leader of the opposition Begum Khaleda Zia and some other political leaders such as former president Mr Ershad, Mr. RK Menon, had visited the area and made public statements in favor of the landless people.
On this period, the movement achieved some tangible immediate results such as:
- In accordance with the demand of the local people the SP and ASP of Satkhira, and some other government officials involved in the attacks were withdrawn and transferred from Satkhira.
- The local committees of the then ruling party (i.e. the Awami League) were forthrightly dissolved.
- The people of Baburabad village renamed the place as "Jaedanagar".
- A one member judicial commission was formed for investigation.
- On the recommendation of the judicial commission, the Land Ministry formed a nine-member special task force for reclassification and distribution of khasland among the landless. This task force prepared a list of 998 landless households, which was accepted by the Land Ministry. Hence, the list of 998 eligible households for khasland made by the previous regime has remained unchanged.
- Under the present government the District Law and Order Committee recommended to the Home Ministry to withdraw 20 cases out of 28 against the landless people.
- The organized people have been able to retain the khasland under their possession, despite their continuous exposure to threats of eviction. As estimates suggest, the present market value of the land stands at around Tk. 1000 million. Given their constant collective vigilance, the government could not lease out the land for the last four years, the lease value of which would be around Tk. 20 million.
- Uttaran along with the landless people’s representatives made representations and petitions to the Deputy Commissioner and Member of Parliament from the local constituency, as well as to the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and the PMO.
However, this atrocity against the landless people has never stopped from there. In fact, a bloody repetition of the incident took place in the area. The culprits had once again held a violent attack to the landless people in Kaligonj and Assasuni upazilas on 27 February 2005. In this recent incident, 364 landless families have been evicted from their rightful homestead covering 233 acre of khasland in Basukhali village of Assasuni Upazila, and Chinrikhali and Boiragirchak villages of Kaligonj upazila under Satkhira district respectively. The hired thugs were backed up by political hoodlums and activists of the ruling party in connivance with corrupt government officials and personnel in the area. The culprit set fires on the homesteads of landless that injured 80 landless people and one landless woman named Sabiron was succumbed to death on 1 March 2005. Although some attackers have been arrested by the police but the local people have the serious reservation as to neutrality of the investigation on the tragic incident, unless highest priority is given from the highest level of the government. On the other hand, Uttaran and other NGOs of Satkhira district mobilized a public opinion in the form of rallies, meetings with the participation of local people, landless people, and other sectors in the locality. The District Commissioner including the TNO of Debhata and Kaligonj, ADC Revenue and 2 AC Land had visited the mentioned places of incident. In this connection, 11 criminal cases were filed in favor of the landless people while land grabbers have file 1 case against the landless. Already 13 land grabbers have been arrested in relation to the incident. After the very incident, Uttaran has reactivated the landless movement and challenged its members to consolidate themselves peacefully and proactively. Uttaran informed its development partners and networks at home and abroad for solidarity support to the landless movement in Satkhira. Moreover, a human rights team headed by Action Aid Bangladesh came to Satkhira inviting from Uttaran to conduct in-depth investigation of the incident. It was followed by a conference in Dhaka to give light on the issue and subsequently, the team sent a letter of appeal to the DC of Satkhira for justice of the landless victims.
In the midst of silence of the landless movement in the area, another terror incident took place at close to Baburabad under Kaligonj Upazila last June 3, 2006 where 3 activists of the landless movement were abducted namely Abul Hossain (65), Fazlu Mollah (45) and Abdus Sobhan Sardar (55). The incident was occurred by the land grabbers namely Bashir Ahmed, Moni Sardar, Shahid chairman and their unleashed accomplices from Kaligonj area. The poor victims were tortured to death by their abductors and left unconsciously near at the Uzirpur Bridge in Kaligonj Upazila. In the following day (Saturday morning), the victims were rescued by the local people and rushed them to the Satkhira General Hospital for treatment. On the same day at 6:30pm, Abul Hossain died due to his fatal injuries. This incident has intensified the movement under the banner of the Central Bhumi Committee (organized by Uttaran) in Satkhira. Public rally was held on June 4, 2006 in Satkhira to protest the recent incident and demanded for justice of the victims. While on June 9, 2006, a press conference was held at Sakhira Press Club for the immediate arrest of the accused. Follow-up rally was held on June 15, 2006 in Satkhira demanding to end the atrocities among the landless people and communities, and immediate justice for the victims. All these are but another series of terror among the landless people which prime motive is to evict them from their khasland.
Despite of the bloody struggles of the landless people, it is then viewed that the landless movement has succeeded to elevate their issues on the proper fora and authorities, and advance their cause towards creating access and establishing their rights on the khasland. With the prevailing context, the movement needs to strengthen and reactivate their ranks in partnership with likeminded NGOs and civil society in order to create strong public support and impact. Because the more that they are divided and weak, the more that their culprit will continue their terror assaults and take advantage of their situation. Admittedly the landless movement in the Satkhira has still a long way to go to realize their aspiration on their quest in the khasland and effectively upheld their rights. But the hopes and energy among the landless people echoing persistently. According to Md. Wahad Ali Sarder, the leader of the people movement in the controversial Baburabad (now called as Jahednagar) and currently facing 14 false cases said that “there is hope among the landless in establishing their rights to the disputed khasland because of the recent developments. We, the landless, are organized and motivated to fight for our cause because we know that we are not alone in this struggle. We are now aware of our rights and we fully understand khasland better than before. In fact, we have already recovered 782.32 acres of khasland for permanent settlement in Baburabad, Jhayamari and Bhanganmari of Kaligonj upazila last May 2006.Of the total, 352.02 acres are registered among 437 families. While the remaining 430.3 acres khasland are underway to make registration. All these made possible with the intervention of Uttaran. In addition, if everything is fully realized, we will help and expand our initiatives on khasland recovery issues to our neighboring communities…and we will sustain our struggle for our rights ...where are we going if we will not fight for it? This land is ours, our only land. ”
Nevertheless, the movement has proved that land reform is very essential in Bangladesh for equitable distribution of public resources such as khasland; created a great social impact in the area wherein the landless people have become better organized and arrangements are afoot to establish their rights on the khasland; a parallel movement was created to counter-act massive and unjust shrimp operation e.g. anti-shrimp-culture movement in Tala; influenced at changing NGO priorities and development strategies in the areas by mainstreaming land rights issues and concerns; created an eye-opener to the public with the help of the media; and rock-the-boat of the government and policy makers to the in-depth details of the issue, hence, reflect to current policy and practice in light of khasland distribution and land rights of the poor landless people.
Role of NGOs and Uttaran Works on Land Rights Issue
NGOs played a substantially critical role in the landless peoples’ movements at creating access and establishing their rights and control over government-owned land or khasland. NGOs participation in the process of the land reform is recognized. In fact, the Land Reform Action Program 1987 emphasized on the roles of NGOs as stipulated in the sections 118-121 of the Circular No. 01/1394BS. In particular, Section 121 defined the types of assistance and cooperation from NGOs under LRAP 1987. These provisions provide a legal basis of entry points and opportunities for proactive engagement among NGOs on the khasland issues during pre and post land settlement at the community or local level.
Concretely, Uttaran has contributed its lots in the process especially on the aspect of “bottoms-up” legal and human rights conscientization and mobilizations, formation and strengthening of the landless groups and lokokendro; social services such as non-formal primary education and potable water supply; and intensification of its effort at establishing access and rights of the landless and other resource poor people to the khasland and other public resources since its inception. At present, the organization is implementing a project namely Asserting Popular Access and Rights Project in partnership with 10 local NGOs in the Southwest region through the funding support of the Manusher Jonno. The project is implemented in 6 upazilas in Satkhira district namely Tala, Assasuni, Satkhira Sadar, Debhata, Kaliganj and Shyamnagar and 3 upazilas in Khulna district namely Paikgacha, Dumuria and Botiaghata. It aimed to reduce social, economical and political inequalities and injustices particularly landlessness, poverty and underdevelopment. This can be realized through undertaking some innovative and enabling activities such as: enhancing access of the poor to khasland and other public resources (recover and settle khasland and other public resources to the landless and other resource poor people, social mobilization for recovery and distribution of khasland and other public resources, legal assistance, media campaign); governance and democratization (capacity building and establishing rapport with UP chairmen and members); capacity building of Uttaran and network members; and partnership with local NGOs.
Under this current initiative, the landless people were formed into primary organizations to collectively raise their voices on their rights and actively participate in various community mobilization activities like rallies, submission of memoranda, capacity building training, land rights awareness campaign etc. A civil society committee named Bhumi Odhikar Bastobayan Parishad was organized as local forum for the landless people in 9 upazilas. The partner-UPs and their respective chairmen of the said upazilas were mobilized in the khasland identification and recovery issues. The UPs waged all out support to the landless people and partner-NGOs by giving certificates and lease out of lands in their respective union as well as providing information on the availability of khaslands in their jurisdictions. The UP chairmen and members are also helping the “Tahshildars” in khaslands demarcation and providing temporary settlement through duplicate carbon receipt (DCR).
Uttaran is working for the transfer of khasland, state property, to landless of Satkhira and Khulna districts. Government, because of Uttaran’s advocacy initiatives, has recovered large amount of land from illegal occupants and has handover to implement two land rights project with Manusher Jonno Foundation and Shiree/DFID. Through these project, Uttaran has recovered a total of 2069.20 acres of khasland as permanent settlement for 2692 families and 6459.7 acres of khasland as temporary settlement. for 9782 families. So in total 8528.9 acres of khasland has been recovered for 12474 families as of August, 2010. Uttaran is facilitating this land distribution process with the Government of Bangladesh.
These developments gave new hope for the landless poor to further unify themselves as they are now gaining momentum in their cause for their rights and claim to the khasland. As what Hafiza Begum, mother of 2 minor children who live Teorpara village in Debhata testified the contribution of Uttaran in ameliorating their plight on the khasland recovery. She said “my family lived in Teorpara since the last 6 years…along the years I have witnessed the cruelty of the government officials in the land office who by then attempted to uproot us from our land but Uttaran was in our side that give us more courage depend our rights. At the moment, 13 families including mine in our village secured DCR for 1.12 acres of khasland while 2 remaining family is under process. I acquired my DCR last 11 July 2005 and hoping to get permanent ownership this year. We worked hard for getting the land but we failed…with Uttaran supports we successfully secured the DCR of our land. Before, we felt very uncertain and unhappy as the land officials threatened us to evict from our land and they demanded for big money which we cannot afford given our hand-to-mouth income. Now, we are very happy because we held the legal document that we can live in our land and nobody will disturb us from our land”.
1. Creating social capital
- Awaken the awareness of the poor landless people of the area about their rights to the khaslands.
- Organized the people into groups which have given the people extra cumulative energy.
- Contributed in developing social capital among the target people by increasing awareness and by organizing them into groups.
2. Contribution to poverty alleviation
- Land, whatever small amount it is, provides scope for extra earning for the household and reduces poverty.
- Transparent land settlement process reduced scopes of bribing and corruption and has saved a lot of money of poor people. It has also reduced the trend and incidence of case filing in administrative courts. Hence, it also reduced unwanted and prolonged expenditures in courts.
- Contributed to retain more income and reduce expenditure for households and ultimately contributing to reduction of poverty.
3. Reduced bribing scopes
- Normally landless people had to pay a bribe of 3000 taka to the Upazila Land Office for assuring DCR. Although people still have to pay the bribe, but both the amount and frequency of bribe has reduced in comparison to the past.
- Enhanced communication among stakeholders contribute in reducing corruption. It was especially evident in the case of land settlement where upazila administration, landless people, civil society, UP chairmen/members had scope of frequent and open communications and also meeting face-to-face. In those situations, people do not get enough scope to demand bribe.
4. Reducing the social gap
- Due to current initiatives, bondage has been built among the civil society and poor landless people.
- Civil society is carrying the message of the people to the government administration to make them aware and also to motivate them to work in favor of the landless.
- In many cases, the landless people are also getting direct access to UNO or AC offices to enquire or complain about their problems.
- Different level of society is hence brought to unity centering the land rights issues. This bondage can be utilized in other greater social needs.
5. Contributed to improve well-being of the members
- Based on the set well-being indicators, members were asked to compare their situation before and after the initiative regarding food, accommodation, awareness and scopes of alternate income generation. The results showed a rather remarkable improvement score like Expense on Food (99.5), Excess income meant for consumption (168.5), Expense on health (95.75), Awareness (198.5), and AIG (79) respectively.
- Excess earning of the households due to current initiative were not spent to food. Rather they spent in on construction of houses. It has indicated that people have an expectation of living in a good house.
- The comparative development in case of food and medical treatment got almost the same level of improvement.
As equally important, Uttaran has been successfully instituted strategies that effectively strengthen the on-going initiative, hence, achieved the abovementioned impact. Among these strategies are training for social mobilization and capacity building; enhancing access of landless people to khasland and public property; organizing the destitute, poor and lower cast people; solving many problems locally through mediation; helping to increase income generation for landless and destitute; public campaign including workshops, seminars, human chain, rally with civil society and journalists; providing interest free loans to pay for DCR; annual and permanent settlements for poor people; raising awareness of local government representatives through training; and increasing participation of landless people socially and politically.
Thru the sustained community efforts led by Uttaran on land rights and khasland issues in Satkhira district, the GOs-NGOs joint action was formed under the leadership of the Deputy Commissioner of Satkhira Mr. Mohammad Ilias along with the Minister for Satkhira district Mr. Amanullah Aman who is also the current State Minister for Labour and Manpower. As per instructions of the Minister and the guidance of the DC, a meeting of the Tala Upazila Agricultural Khasland Distribution and Management Committee was held on 11 August 2005 at the Upazila Auditorium. As a result, a unanimous decision for the creation of Landless Selection Committees at the Union and Ward level throughout Tala upazila was realized. The Committee was tasked to produce the actual list of legitimate landless households in Tala Upazila on 31st December 2005 through preparation of the preferential list of the landless households at the Union and Ward level, rectify errors in the previous lease/settlement, get rid of different complexities in relation to Khasland management, identify Khasland and recover it from illegal occupants for distribution to the landless people, and assist government’s poverty reduction programs. Some activities have been launched already in the area such as committee formation in Union and Ward level, information dissemination campaign, free distribution of forms for landless applicants, applicant screening, public meetings etc.
It is worth mentioning that Uttaran has played vital role on the process by selflessly provided technical assistance as well as sharing good practices to concerned authorities in Tala upazila. Besides, the organization has formed ward-wise 6 members committee headed by the respective UP ward member with a reserve seat for female member. The other committee members are comprised of a teacher, two religious leaders (Imam and Purahith both) and a member candidate who contested during the last UP election. The ward committee enlisted the landless people through the conduct of intensive survey. And after getting the landless list from individual UP chairman/ members, the organization published the completed landless lists as duly approved by the district and upazila level administration respectively. In addition, Uttaran played a conducive role to segregate plot identification through survey, sketch mapping etc. As per plot identification, the landless people are being given khasland gradually and accordingly. This Tala upazila experience is viewed to be unique and its success, and the methodology used can be replicated in other areas in the region.
According to the Mr. Shahidul Islam – Uttaran Director “What we have achieved so far in Khasland recovery and distribution is not the end but a new beginning of bigger challenge given the present situation of the landless people and the forces (vested groups etc) behind the Khasland issue. But through collective efforts of all key actors, peoples’ conscientization and mobilization, local government support plus the intensification of solidarity works in local, national and international level... the land for landless is not far to realize”.
Undoubtedly, the recovery of the khasland and establishment of the rights of the landless people is not yet over. It posed significant challenges to sustain the current initiatives with critical and long-term perspective. Among these challenges are:
- Sustain and accelerate the current multi-sectoral efforts on khasland identification and distribution among the legitimate landless people. Hence, work for the immediate recovery of the misclassified khaslands including those in the hands of the illegal occupants and bogus landless.
- Strengthen and expand landless movement in partnership with likeminded and/or allied NGOs, civil societies, media, political parties, social organizations, and local administration (DC, TNO and UPs) etc to establish the legitimate stake of the landless people in the land reform process and facilitate the fast-tracking of the khasland recovery and distribution.
- NGOs should increase its role by optimizing the legal framework vis-à-vis assistance and cooperation at pre and post land settlement at the local level in the light LRAP 87 Section 121.
- NGOs working in the area should reflect upon its current development programs and strategies in view of the mainstreaming process of land rights and khasland issues while taking gender and governance as cross-cutting approach. Hence, NGOs should side-by-side strengthen its facilitation and monitoring role and take the synergy of both rights and needs based interventions with the landless communities.
- NGOs, Civil Society and Landless Movement should lobby to major political parties (both the ruling party and opposition) to incorporate their political commitment in the platform of government or political manifesto.
- Necessity to institute effective mechanisms or strategies to strategically address issues like land related administrative complexities and administrative hurdles in getting permanent settlement, political influence and (influence and) land grabbing of elites; delay selection of legitimate landless people; sustainability of dealing with legal cases; and limited access to or financial support to the ongoing land rights initiatives.
- Conduct regular public forum on the issues to provide in-depth understanding on the land rights status and khasland issues of the landless people in order to create venue for public opinion and debates on land reform policy gaps, (mal)practices, and underlying complexities of the issue which will be taken for effective framing of peoples’ agenda and policy alternative development; to create venue for good practices sharing among the landless people movement and relevant actors; to serve as venue to expose human rights violations/abuses and identify the real culprit behind; and arouse public opinion/views on the pitfalls of the government’s land reform program and the implementation scenario which is currently tainted by corruption, politicking and the lack of political will to implement the law; and facilitate people’s conscientization and mobilization on the issue.
- Strengthen and intensify campaign and advocacy initiatives on people’s rights and khasland issues. In this regards, there is a need for policy review to understand existing policy and its practice in lieu of the land reform program and khasland issue. The review process will facilitate to identify the policy gaps for clear-cut understanding on the issue and development of peoples’ agenda to effectively proceed with the advocacy works. The review process will help to effectively mainstream the issue at hand in the policy or in the nitty-gritty details of various programs under relevant policy element. The campaign/advocacy work will be done simultaneously not isolating at the community/local level but at the same time putting emphasis on the policy chamber through sustained persuasion/lobby works for policy legislation and action. It should be aided by the likeminded national level advocacy and human rights/legal rights networks and allied organizations for broader constituency on the issue as well as create maximum impact.
- Build and expand network and alliance work with likeminded organizations both home and abroad to ventilate land reform issues and concerns especially the current plight of the landless people in the country and create strong solidarity for political and legislative pressure.
- Uttaran’s director was arrested by the joint forces on January 27, 2007 with unwarrantedly and tortured him mercilessly implicating bogus allegation for creating unrest situation in the country uniting landless people. This type of threat always exist in Uttaran.