By Dr Olav Albuquerque
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant wants to protect the rights of Goans or migrants first?
CHIEF MINISTER Minister Pramod Sawant seems to have committed a gaffe when he announced that even migrants from other states who had settled in Goa for the last two or three generations will be treated as mundkar (tenants). “Why do you have to go and ask for NOCs from the landlord to repair your house? File mundkarial cases, 300 square metres of land will be given to you by law,” he added.
But Sawant has not divulged that many illegal squatters occupy the private land of Goans who working in Dubai or other Gulf states. When they return, they may find their ancestral bungalows occupied by unknown people claiming ownership.“They say they are mundkar but we have never seen them before,” explained Cajetan Soares, a Goan who had gone to Dubai to work and is now fighting to get his home and house back.
Sawant also assured that the laws would be amended to speed the disposal of mundkarial cases. This government is for the mundkar and not_bhatkar, said Sawant. The chief minister said the tenanted land regularization will be also applicable to those from other states and have been residing in Goa for the past two or three generations.
“We have given many opportunities to people and even relaxed many clauses in the laws and we have now extended this initiative again. Those having registered sale deeds must get the mutation done and apply for regularisation of their houses,” he said. “Many times when a person tries to repair his house after getting a job, they are obstructed by the landlord who refuses permission, but I want to inform these people that it is our job to give them `Sanad’ and get their house regularised,” said Sawant.
What Sawant has not revealed is that there is a demographic change in Goa with migrants grabbing the ancestral lands of Goans. The modus operandi is to apply for a change of name by inserting an announcement in the official gazette of the Goa government. Migrants adopt names of families who have left Goa and abondoned their homes.
These migrants then adopt identical surnames of the absentee bhatkar, grab the ancestral houses and lands of the owners, and threaten the bona fide owners with murder or assault if they dare to claim their homes or lands back. In any case, the period of limitation is 12 years if an illegal occupant is using the land or occupying the bungalow openly, peacefully and continuously for 12 years without any complaint being made.
This is what is called gaining a title to the land by prescription. After Indira Gandhi removed Articles 31 and 19 (1) (f) from Part III of the Constitution, the right to property ceased to be a fundamental right. Article 300 A declares that nobody can be deprived of his or her property except by following the due process of law. This implies that bhatkar must be given fair market value for their property. But this is not the case. The erstwhile bhatkar are given miserly sums by the joint mamlatdar who have to implement government policies to protect the mundkar, some of whom may not even be Goan.
I have personally experienced this when a woman whom I do not know, trespassed into my ancestral house and threatened my 96-year-old aunt, who was living alone with an illiterate servant, to sign a bogus sale deed declaring the vendor as the only daughter. After I issued her a legal notice dated December 30, 2016, this woman who is an employee of the panchayat, again trespassed into my ancestral house by using my cousin, and forcibly got my aged aunt to sign a bogus affidavit declaring she was being starved to death.
Another case from Salvador do Mundo has seen one Bhagwant Ladu Naik who incited his relative to build an illegal house on my ancestral land, to grab the entire plot admeasuring 1250 square metres, which is worth several crore rupees. This man who has built an illegal house in my ancestral plot with the connivance of the clerk in the village panchayat, is not a mundkar but has tried to illegally declare himself as one.
The fact is mamlatdars’ courts are packed with such cases of cheating and criminal house trespass. Rather than being anti-bhatkar, the chief minister must adopt a middle-of-the-road approach where huge land holdings are not allowed. But the bhatkar must be allowed to enjoy his house and land in peace and quiet if he has no alternate accommodation.
But the demographic change in Goa has defeated the martyrdom of seven lives in the 1986 pro-Konkani language agitation. Statues should be raised to those who died fighting for Konkani to be recognized as an official language of the state. But that has not come about.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant is allegedly more interested in protecting migrants who settle in Goa and illegally claim the ancestral lands of Goans as their own!