On dharna since the past 24 years, man made to call off protest

A man, who had been on a dharna here since the past 24 years to protest against land sharks who had encroached government-owned land in his village, was made to call off his protest on Thursday.

Vijay Singh, a teacher, had started his sit-in at the Collectorate in Muzaffarnagar in January 1996. Shamli, his hometown, was not even a district then and the neighbouring Muzaffarnagar district administration had offered him place to stage his protest.

On Thursday however, the Muzaffarnagar district administration told him that two of his land grab complaints were pending in court and asked him to move away from the premises.

Additional District Magistrate Amit Singh said: “Vijay Singh, a resident of Chausana village in Shamli, had filed complaints in 2007 against 12 people for land grab in a revenue court in Lucknow and also in the court of civil judge in Shamli. In both the cases, the accused managed to get a stay. In March 2019, he filed another complaint in the revenue court which is being investigated by the Shamli administration. No complaint or case was filed by Singh here in Muzaffarnagar. Despite this he is sitting on a dharna at the Muzaffarnagar Collectorate. So he was removed from the premises.”

Vijay Singh was not amused with the district administration’s action. “It was not a personal issue that I have been fighting for. My sit-in was to highlight the corruption that happens right under the nose of government officials. My crusade will continue. If needed, I will approach the PMO,” he said.

Vijay Singh, who had left his school job to begin his protest in 1996, has received recognition at various forums, including a place in the Limca Book of Records.

In 2012, he walked 600 kms to Lucknow in 19 days and met then chief minister Akhilesh Yadav in order to create awareness about land grabbing and the irrepressible land mafia in Uttar Pradesh.

Singh, despite the threats that he has been receiving at regular intervals, has been able to secure the release of hundreds of bighas of land from the clutches of land mafia in different areas of Shamli.

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