"She was not a person. She was a power."
- a fellow activist remembering Navleen Kumar
Navleen Kumar was a fervent land rights and social justice activist in India.
With commitment and integrity, she worked for more than a decade to protect and restore the lands of Indigenous people (adivasi) in Thane district, an area taken away by property and land developers using such means as coercion and intimidation. She fought this injustice and crime through legal interventions at different courts, realizing that manipulation of land records was a recurrent feature in most cases of land acquisition. In one of the cases, that of the Wartha (a tribal family), Navleen found out that the family had been cheated with the complicity of government officials.
Through her work, she helped restore the land back to the Wartha family and continued to pursue other cases of adivasi land transfers.
“Her paper on the impact of land alienation on adivasi women and children traces the history and complexities of tribal alienation from the 1970s, when middle class families began to move to the extended suburbs of Mumbai as the real estate value in the city spiralled.
Housing complexes mushroomed in these suburbs, and the illiterate tribals paid the price for this. Prime land near the railway lines fetched a high price and builders swooped down on this belt like vultures, to grab land from tribals and other local residents by illegal means.”
-Jaya Menon, Justice and Peace Commission
During the course of her activism, Navleen received numerous threats and survived several attempts on her life. Despite these, she continued working on what was not only important to her but contributed to changing the lives and realities of many she supported in the struggle for social justice.
Navleen was stabbed to death on 19 June 2002 in her apartment building. Two local gangsters were arrested for her murder.