Open Letter of Durga Singh Martolia of Martoli ( of Bala )
in Pighalata Himalaya dt. 15 February, 2016
Munsyari. Apropos the forthcoming celebration of the Tenth Anniversary of establishment of MJVS in May/June , 2016 at Munsyari, a letter that has been published by Durga Singh Martolia ji, makes a great reading, in a way justifying the need to set up a society dedicated to development of Malla Johar villages. True, there are scores of societies today dedicated to development of our Shauka society, as it needs each and every one of them. More the merrier, as they say !
Many Needs, Many Volunteers
Many people seem to be critical of the existence of so many institutions. Another way to look at this situation, a positive one, is that there are so many facets to a society and its needs, and its really fortunate that so many people have volunteered themeselves and have floated so many organisations. Had there been just a few the number of active volunteers would have been quite small. That is how the existence of so many institutions should be lauded, and joined in by each and every one of us. Ideally, it would be an excellenet idea to join every society and through that society help advance the cause it is dedicated to. there is no end to the extent of volunteerism. Every voluntary work must be acclaimed and emulated. How many broder regions of our Uttarakhand can complain of what could be called ; "An excess of Voluntarism". Only Johari Shauka community has that kind of dedication to their homeland.
Land Issue of Malla Johar :
In his letter Durga Singh Martolia of Bala makes following importnat points:
( i ) He is aged 81 and for the last 50 years been going to Martoli, every year, and even this year he spent 100 days during the Summer of 2015,
( ii ) This year he had to make as many as four halts on the way ( due to age and extremely bad condition of roads ) before he could reach Martoli,
( iii ) Now he is hopeful that our 15 Johari villages will get finally linked with all-weather roads and I am hopeful that during my life time the villages will get linked with motorable road ( Three Cheers for Connectivity, Better late than never ). Like Durgan Singh Martolia there are many senior citizens who wish to travel to their villages on vehicles ( this writer being one of them !). So, our dream is round the corner. Perhaps the only hopeful note, in an otherwise dreary Munsyari.
( iv ) The highly confused state of land records as it exists in these 15 revenue villages is the most troublesome and this deserves to be reslved at the earliest, as we all prepare to rehabilitate our forlorn and de-populated villages in the extreme borderland of India.
Demarcation of Plots & Measurements
What requires to be done is as follows :
( a ) There is no precise record of the shares that are held by the shareholders and he is of the view that maintenance f these land records should be the first and top priority of all of us. This writer would like to add that this is the first job that was done by MJVS and copies of all Khataunis, copied from the Tehsil records were made out and kept at the MJVS office in Tiksen Bazar Office. Now, we also need to get the Non ZA Khartuani also formally copied and kept at the MJVS office. Many Joharis had personally inspected these copies of Z Khatauni and applied for mutations, that is the responsibility of both, the Revenue authorities ( in cases of undisputed succession ) as well as the tenue -holders. All those Joharis who read this articel must immediately apply for mutation of land in their own names, at the earliest. Indeed many of us, in village Tola, have gone for this mutation and got the Khatauni updated. MJVS should now take up this UPDATION OF KHATAUNIS as a Campaign, so that land transactions become easy.
( b ) The second issue relates to actual Plotting on ground and identification of plots as shown in the Map ( Shajra ). The second campaign could be plotting and demarcation of all 15 revenue villages. Joint application can be filed by all tenure holders and this Summer the Tehsil authorities could be requested to ensure that all Plots are demarcated and identified, while the tenure holders are present themeselve, or through their authorised representatives. This is a routine exercise and this must be done now on a campaig basis. Tenth Anniversary should make these two Campaigns a major part of their Tenth Anniversary Celebrations.
( c ) Third major issue raised relates to a formal division of plots where the family has expanded exponentially. For this regular applications will require to be filed by the concerned parties to a plot. This has to be decided within the family and formality undergone. As this is likely to create considerable problem best course would be resolve the issue first internally. Here the intervention of the elders in any family would be most desirable.
( d ) The most ticklish issue relates to the Joint Holding by the village shrae-holders. Postponing this matter for future has today created a major issue. Even a cursory look at many of such GOL KHATAS would disclose that division of such Khatas has already led to bad-blood among cousins and close relations. Munsyari is also testimony of several revenue and criminal cases ( these are well known in Munsyari by now ). The issue is how to resolve where the problem has already gone to the worst extreme and next, how not to allow new cases to come up and disturb the communal and societal harmony.
I have already appealed to the so called well-to-do class of te Johari Shaukas, in every village, that they must show magnanimity, forsake their personal share, give it either for the community purpose or to the weakest member in their family. There are many in Johar today, paticularly those who have built houses in plains, Haldwani, Dehradun and even in Munsyari, to donate their share in favour of the poorest/weakest or for the community purpose, say Guest House/Rest House/School/ Panchayat Bhawan or any other community purpose. ( This writer has aleady offered to be the first such share-hiolder in Tola village. ) If they need land for some personal purpose they could certainly buy from any existing land holder. This would reduce conflicyt, bring harmony and good will.
( e ) Giving the example of Martoli, according to him there is 1327 nalis of Measured land ( Nap Bhumi ) and in 1966 there were just 79 share holders. As against this 79 share-holders ( as shown in plot numbers of Martoli Khatauni ) how many exist today, and what is the exact number no one knows, neither there exists any record of such detail. According to this writer, it is not a unique problem, and this can happen anywhere. Now, what is required that the descendants of each shae-holder must put in application for mutation, as per their own knowledge, and apply for mutation. It is for the revenue authorities to not only update the records but also let one know the shares that belong to him/her. However, the issue is that the formal application must be filed now, both for mutation and division of shares among co-parceners. The responsibility lies primarily with the tenure-holders themeselves. of course the revenue officials should also have undertaken mutation where there is no contest ( uncontested mutations, periodically ). During Winter tours the revenue officials were expected to ensure this updating of records. When the public pressure gets diluted corruption takes over. MJVS will now commence this process through RTI applications, as well
( f ) The last record operations, acording to Bala Singh Martolia, took place in 1966, and most of the operations were undertaken sitting at one place. Well, in 1966 the Jauhari Shakas had become a comunity short-changed both by the state as well as the politicians, as the reservations etc came only a year later, in 1967, and recruitment in various service picked up only in the latter half of 1970s. Much, of course, has changed since and the community can not be taken for a ride any more. MJVS stands for such a strong resolve of this community.
( g ) Durga Singh says that he does not possess updated version of Khatauni and other records. All that he needs to do is to file application under revenue law and also apply for Kisan Bahi. LAND RECORDS ARE NOW DIGITISED. ARE THEY FOR JOHAR ALSO ? Just find out and try the net.
( h ) is Consolidation of Holdings a solution. This writer doubts it seriously. There is no need to get involved in the process as the existing laws and provisions are there to be applied to first. What is certain that the POPULATION IS FAR MORE LARGER THAN THERE IS LAND TO ACCOMMODATE.
Mahatma Gandhi had already observed: There is enough for every one's Needs , but not for every one;s Greed !
There are many who do not NEED THEIR ANCESTRAL LANDS, however, among their kiths and kins, there are many who have not been shown mercy by the Fate. Let us come forard and contribute to welfare of those who need our help and assitance.
The other issue is the vast qualtity of NON-ZA LANDS, in which Malla Johar abounds. Let us take up the isuue of allotment of Non ZA lands to all those landless Joharis e.g. those belonging to the Scheduled Castes, soe dependent Brahmin families and others, who have been an integral part of the Johari Shauka community, as per the records. These Non ZA Lands are appertanenat to the 15 Villages that are exclsuively Scheduled Tribes. The first charge on these Non ZA land lies with these communities that have used them. For the last 67 long years these people have lived a life that no one can be envious of. With grit and determination and of course, help of the state govt and te Union Governmemt, they are again in a position to rehabilitate these remote regions. So, any use of these precious lands must be in consultations with them, and them alone. First priority should be for those, like the dependenat classes of Shilpkars, Brahmin landless belonging to each village, and also the landless among themselves, as well.
Appeal to All
This Open Leter from an aged Johari stalwart, Durga Singh Martolia, has fully justified establishment of a watch and ward society, known today as the Malla Johar Vikas Samiti, and this May/June it celebrates its Tenth Anniversary. The issues that have been raised by this Grand Old Man of our Boredrlands deserve highest attention, both of the affected community as well as the Government of Harish Rawat, whic has taken great interest in development of the Johar valley and other border regions. he also bears a special responsibilty, namely that of being their MLA in the Uttarakhand Assembly.
This writer located as he is right in Munsyari itself, would be looking very keenly as to how the Johari Community, the district administration of Munsyari-Pithoragarh responds to these issues, and above all, what steps get taken by the State Government, in the Year of State Elections, due in 2017.
Woudl it be correct to assume that the condition of land records in most of our so-called 'abandoned villages' in remote locations is no different, and if yes, what is the take of the revenue offices of village, tehsil and district level. Several land related issues have recently hit the head-lines of our newspapers; many blantant irregularities like sale of tribal land in the name of donation cum sale cum gift plague even Munsyari, successfully covered by an ever obliging lower and higher bureaucracy, the tribal lands in Mana and Munsyari, are gathering dust in various courts ( including the highets one in this state )- the issue is will this kind be the latest victim of utter neglect of our land records.
Only future will tell, and with what consequences no one is ready to guess correctly. Let NEED PREVAIL OVER UTTER GREED.