Anand Pagare is a media activist working in one of the most sensitive areas in the country, Malegaon. A boiling pot of communal strife, the town is in the constant grip of violence and religious tensions, but while these stories are picked up by the mainstream press, there are still atrocities that happen under the radar. Anand, born into a…
Malegaon, Maharashtra – A Community Media Journalist whose home and land is currently under threat of being forcibly acquired by the Maharashtra Housing And Development Authority (MHADA) is initiating a unique grassroots campaign to safeguard and assert his communities’ right to land. He has produced a series of videos (watch here) documenting the encroachment which he will screen at various locations across Malegaon in an effort to give the oppressed communities a platform to make their dissent heard and struggle visible.
Anand Pagare is a resident of the erstwhile Sayane village near Malegaon, Maharashtra. Until 2011 Sayane and the neighboring Mhalde had been villages that came under the village Panchayat system. It was only in 2012 that they came to be a part of theMalegaonCityMunicipality. This is the very loophole that MHADA is exploiting to alienate the people from their land.
The authorities maintain that since the villages now come under the jurisdiction of the city, the original land registration papers (registered at the panchayat) are now meaningless. They also maintain that under the circumstances there is no compulsion to provide for compensation and rehabilitation to the displaced families living on ‘un-registered’ land.
“They think that just because we are under the municipality, they can do anything they want with the land.” Says Anand. “They say they are doing this in the name of development. But what sort of development is this when you building housing complexes by bulldozing people’s homes and lands.”
Late last year, 25 adivasis lost their homes and farms to MHADA. They are homeless and living in plastic sheds. 50 acres of community pasture land and a Dalit graveyard have also been usurped. But the lowest the development authority has stooped was to cheat a deaf illiterate tribal and get his land signed over to them.
“There is so much empty land in the neighborhood but I don’t understand why they always pick the land owned by Dalits and Tribals,” says Anand. “It is like they are systematically destroying everything we ever had… including our families and memories. And while all this outrage is happening, not a word of the incident has appeared in the mainstream media”
Today, only a few hours ago, was the first screening at the local press club. The response was overwhelming. Members of local organizations have offered to conduct screenings. Activists have put forward proposals to form a people’s movement against the forced evictions. Even some local reporters have offered their solidarity.
“Across the country, voices against land evictions are rising and making their presence felt,” says Anand. “We need to use all our resources and our strength in numbers to pressurize the authorities until they have no option but to bring about the change we seek.”
You can help Anand in his Campaign
Email Chief Minister Prithviraj Chauhan at email@example.comOr call his office on +91-22-22025151,22025222 and register a complaint against MHADA’s illegal evictions of the people of Sayane and Mhalde Village in Malegaon.Contact for Anand Pagare