TN: PM urged to help restore land to dalits

Samuga Samatuva Padai sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s intervention in restoring over 12 lakh acres of `Panchami` land to Dalits.

New Delhi: Samuga Samatuva Padai, a little-known political outfit in Tamil Nadu, on Thursday sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s intervention in restoring over 12 lakh acres of `Panchami` land in the state to its "legal custodians", the Dalits.

Founder president of SSP, P Sivakami, called on the Prime Minister and apprised him of the situation of Dalits in Tamil Nadu and sought his intervention over the issue of restoration of `Panchami` land.

"Between 1918 and 1931 over 12 lakh acres of cultivable land were distributed to Dalits in Tamil Nadu. But over the years a major portion of these lands, approximately 10 lakh acres, are under illegal occupation by non-Dalits. Dalits are now dispossessed of what is rightfully theirs," Sivakami said after the meeting.

"The land was distributed under the condition that the Dalits could not transfer it to non-Dalits by way of sale, lease or mortagage. However, these lands have been snatched by the upper caste over the years," alleged the former bureaucrat.

The Prime Minister has taken cognisance of the issue and said he would discuss it with Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh, she added.

Towards the end of 2011, the DMK government had appointed a one-man commission under the chairmanship of a retired judge of High Court of Madras to assess the extent of displacement of `Panchami` land and restore them to their legal custodians.

"Now the AIADMK government under the leadership of J Jayalalithaa has been silent on this matter in spite of our repeated requests. The commission has now become defunct. This must be revived," said Sivakami, who is also a prolific

Currently, the SSP is on a 30-day state level protest at Kanchipuram from March 14 to April 12 demanding restoration of the Panchami land to Dalits.