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 A humble, unemployed farmer fought for nearly three years to save his tiny two-acre land from none other than the family members of President Pratibha Patil – and succeeded here Wednesday. The president’s office declined to comment on the matter.

The farmer, Kishore Bansod (29), had been fighting the powerful political family of the Shekhawats, who are also big landlords in Chandrapur-Khullar village in Amravati, 150 km from here, said his lawyer Sunil Gajbhiye.

“The Shekhawats were forcing him to sell off his two acres worth around Rs.10 lakhs so that they could get unrestricted access to their own farm, which is around 200 acres,” Gajbhiye told IANS.

When Bansod refused to sell his ancestral property bequeathed to him by his father, the Shekhawats managed to use their influence and insert their names in the official land records of the revenue department on March 10, 2007, according to Gajbhiye.

The matter came to light when Bansod sought copies of his land records from the revenue department in June last year.

“He was surprised to find the names of Shekhawats on the land records, indicating their ownership of the small property,” Gajbhiye added.

The names include: Devisingh Shekhawat, Pratibha Patil’s husband, his brother Raghusingh Lalsinh Shekhawat, and other relatives including Siddheshwar Lalsinh Shekhawat, Bhawarsingh Lalsinh Shekhawat, Kishoresingh Lalsinh Shekhawat and Omsingh Lalsinh Shekhawat.

Bansod decided to challenge the alterations in the land records made without his knowledge before the sub-divisional office court presided by Ashok Amankar.

After a long battle of nearly three years, the court finally ruled in Bansod’s favour Wednesday and ordered that all the names of the Shekhawat family members be struck off from the land records.

“Under Section 10 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the SDO court has the powers to give a ruling in such matters. For the poor Bansod, it is a significant victory over such powerful personalities. We are happy that his rightful ownership over the small piece of land has been established,” Gajbhiye said.

An official from the president’s secretariat declined to comment on the matter when contacted. “No comments,” the official told IANS.

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