Social Scientist. v 8, no. 87 (Oct 1979) p. 41.

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Operation Barga

THE West Bengal government's Operation Barga completed one year in September 1979. It is a crash programme undertaken by the Left Front government for recording of bargadars^ within a specified time frame. Recording of bargadars was also a part of the programme of the last Settlement Operation. Then what induced the government to undertake this crash programme? The answer requires a discussion in some detail.

There are three major constraints to Prerecording. Firstly very few bargadars are aware that the recording of their names gives them protection against illegal eviction. But they know that any attempt made by a bargadar to get his name recorded will antagonize the landowner. Secondly, the bargadars arc exploited by the landowners in a variety of ways. The common method of exploitation is thaCthey are given a smaller share of the produce than they are entitled to. As provided in the West Bengal Land Reforms Act, the produce of a barga land is divisible between the bargadar and the landowner in the proportion of 50:50 where plough, cattle, manure and seeds are supplied by the landowner and in the proportion of 75:25 in other cases. [Bargadars hardly get their share of the produce from the landowners on the basis of this principle. If the bargadars remained unrecorded, the landowners would be in a position to continue their exploitation. On the other hand, recording would strengthen the position of bargadars and the landowners could be compelled to give them their due share. Therefore the landowners create all sorts of impediments to barga recording. In many cases bargadars arc subjected to economic pressure, intimidation and threats. Quite often bargadars are physically assaulted and their houses are set on fire. Institution of court cases— criminal and civil—is quite common. Under such conditions it becomes difficult for the bargadars of those areas where the peasant movement is not strong, to come forward and get their

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