Vrindavan, 2014.08.29 (VT): Land property belonging to Vrindavan’s widows and babajis are under threat by unscrupulous real estate speculators.
Land grabbing is very common in Vrindavan as most old houses are under disputed ownership and susceptible to forced takeover. Many Bengali widows who have been living in Vrindavan for decades have built their own cottages by saving every paisa earned from doing bhajans and from small donations. Living in austerity, they always preferred to remain independent rather than taking shelter in any of the old age homes.
Some of them are living in old houses built by the zamindars of the past, paying meager rents or have built their own rooms in those properties with the permission of the managers from those times.
Those old properties are easy targets of the land mafias as most of them have shared ownership, split among the descendants of the zamindars. These owners often live in Bengal or in some other state far from Vrindavan and don’t have time to take care of these properties, which are often in a state of disrepair and filled with poor renters like rickshaw wallahs, laborers, widows and so on. Some of these dilapidated properties were quite magnificent at one time and have good locations on or near the Parikrama Marg, etc.
The land mafias approach some of these non-resident owners, and for a minimal sum get the stamped legal paper signed declaring the property sold to them. Often the other parties involved in the property challenge this sale in the court, but it usually takes years for any judgment to be handed down. In the meantime, force rules and the goondas forcibly vacate the rooms occupied by the widows who have no strong support behind them.
The land mafias also eye the small ashrams built by babajis and widows, often using brute force to evict the unprotected owners. Many of such ashrams have already been grabbed and sold away. The old babajis and widows are then forced onto the streets as they are thrown out of their homes.
Concerned with this issue the District Magistrate of Mathura Shrimati B. Chandrakala has written a letter to the Senior Superintendent of Police Nitin Tewari ordering him to safeguard the properties of the Bengali widows that are under the mafias’ scanner.
The DM took cognizance of a report that the goons and the land mafias have eyes on the properties of the old widows who don’t have any successor for their properties. The DM has asked the Vrindavan Police to identify such people and take immediate action on any complaint received in this regard.
The Central and State governments are serious about the widows living in Vraja. Many projects are run under different government schemes for the development of the widows. The government has been issuing guidelines for the protection of the widows in time to time.
For more on Bhu Mafia issues, see here.