Uttar Pradesh police evict world’s ‘longest protester’ after 23 years

Undeterred, the world’s longest protester, Master Vijay Singh, now plans to shift his peaceful agitation to free 1,600 acres of public land to the Prime Minister’s residence in New Delhi

Uttar Pradesh police evict world’s ‘longest protester’ after 23 years
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Aas Mohd Kaif

Uttar Pradesh Police on Wednesday took five minutes to bring curtains down on a 23 year old dharna by a school teacher. Master Vijay Singh (57) had been on dharna at the Muzaffarnagar collectorate since he was 34 years old in 1996. But police physically lifted him and threw him out of the collectorate.

The one-man crusader, who figures in various record books including the Guinness and the Limca Books of Record as the longest single protestor, has been demanding the recovery of 4000 bighas of public land illegally occupied by land mafia in his home village Chausana, now in Shamli district.

Uttar Pradesh Police on Wednesday took five minutes to bring curtains down on a 23 year old dharna by a school teacher. Master Vijay Singh (57) had been on dharna at the Muzaffarnagar collectorate since he was 34 years old in 1996. But police physically lifted him and threw him out of the collectorate.

The one-man crusader, who figures in various record books including the Guinness and the Limca Books of Record as the longest single protestor, has been demanding the recovery of 4000 bighas of public land illegally occupied by land mafia in his home village Chausana, now in Shamli district.

Visibly upset, Master Vijay Singh now plans to undertake a ‘padayatra’ to New Delhi and sit on a dharna with his 23-year old demand outside the PM’s residence. He had undertaken a similar, 610 Km long march to Lucknow in 2012 to meet the then UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. But while he was given the assurance that an inquiry would be set up, nothing came of it.

The activist told National Herald that he was offering a peaceful dharna and had not harmed anyone. And while Muzaffarnagar has hosted as many as 30 District Magistrates in the last 23 years, none of them had meted out such treatment to him. His attempts to meet the DM, Selva Kumari, were also thwarted, he alleged.

Officials in the Muzaffarnagar collectorate claimed that the issue was under consideration of the state’s Board of Revenue and since the allegedly illegally occupied public land now fall under Shamli district, it is the District Magistrate of Shamli who can brief the Board.

Master Vijay Singh remains unimpressed and questions the absence of political will. The illegal occupiers of public land, he points out, are so powerful and enjoy political patronage that no Government had dared to take action against them. This despite as many as 136 cases already registered for loss of revenue and manipulation of land records.

He had resisted both threats and allurements during this period, he says. Former Prime Minister VP Singh had assured that he himself would come forward to till the land. But he fell ill soon thereafter and the promise remained unfulfilled.

The anti-corruption crusader has also been demanding a CBI inquiry. In 2017 he told the Hindustan Times, “ “In 1996, the then commissioner of Meerut zone, HL Virdi, found all my allegations to be true but no action was initiated in the matter. Then, in 2002, the then ADM, CP Singh, initiated a probe and in 2007, ADM Ajay Deep Singh also found my claims to be correct. Despite all that and the many assurances I got at the district administration level, no action was ever taken.”

Hailed by the Guinness Book as the world’s longest protester, Singh is clearly frustrated at his inability to persuade the State to take custody of 1,600 acres of public land, valued at several hundred Crores of Rupees, from private hands. The land mafia, he alleges, continue to thrive in collusion with Revenue officials.

“I am not raising the demand for my personal benefit,” says the dejected activist. On the other hand he wanted the land to be distributed among the poor, the Dalits, the unemployed and the landless.

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