Matrika Yadav loves making headlines-sometimes by confiscating red sandalwood and others by locking LDOs in
the toilet. He is in the news again, this time for the seizure of land belonging to Birendra Sah of Mirchaiya, Siraha. If he thinks he can get away with it, he's mistaken.
This recent action by Yadav has led to souring of relationship between him and his party chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal. The Maoists apologised on his behalf and Yadav was made to resign from the cabinet and as a minister. After being relieved from his ministerial responsibilities, Yadav is busy participating in programs organised by his party's sister organisation, Madhesi National Liberation Front in various parts of Siraha and Sarlahi districts.
Matrika Yadav seized the land belonging to 75 locals including Sah with the help of local YCL on 14 September, 2008. He has distributed 7.15 hectares and a house with 16 rooms to his party's 200 Dalit activists as part of his campaign to nationalise the property of former royal family members. He has alleged that the land actually belongs to former king Gyanendra's brother-in-law Mohan Shahi.
Yadav has ordered local Dalits and landless of Malhaniya, Raghopur, Kuthanama, Jiwa, Mirchaiya, Matiyawa, Rampur, Birta and Prayagpur to build huts and settle over the seized land.
The land seizure was initially done by Maoist cadres led by the party's district in-charge and Matrika's own son-in-law Dilip Sah, CA member Mahendra Paswan and local Maoist leader Jagat Yadav on 3 August, but had to be let go under the directives of the Home Ministry. However, it was captured again within less than 24 hours under the direct orders of Yadav.
"The Home Minister interfered in my jurisdiction without informing me," Yadav had said. "I went there to help the Dalit community settle. What I have done is right."
The motive behind the seizure of the land and the house of Birendra Sah is extortion. When Sah failed to pay up an additional Rs 1 million as demanded by the Maoists, they seized this property. However, he maintains that he had already handed over Rs 4 million, and this has been confirmed by former Maoist district secretary Abinash.
Such activities by former minister Yadav have put his credibility on the line. His move has strained his relationship with the Home Ministry and the Maoist leadership has said they will take actions against him.
The Maoist have not returned the seized land in Siraha district even three months after Maoist chairman and Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal directed his party cadres to do so. Some 729 hectares of land captured during the war is still under Maoist control.
The 2005 12-point agreement and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, both pledge to create conducive environment for the displaced to return and that the seized land and houses would be handed back to their rightful owners and a committee would be formed for that purpose.
But the committee has not taken shape yet due to political bickering among major parties. During the war, 225 people were displaced from the district. According to Insec, Maoists seized land belonging to 80 families here. Maoist Coordinator in Siraha, Dilip Sah, claimed the Maoist party has so far not issued any instruction regarding returning the seized land to the rightful owners. Sah says the seized land would be returned only after the government forms a Land Reforms Commission.
This column by Uma Singh was published in the October 2008 edition of Nepali Sarokar, and translated in myrepublica.com from which it was excerpted