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December deadline for talks on land

Nov. 18: Brihattar Guwahati Unnayan Samiti Aikya Mancha, an umbrella organisation of 252 unnayan samitis (development committees), today asked Dispur to convene a meeting by December 9 to sort out the land rights issues in the city.

It warned that if their demand was not fulfilled, they would resort to a vigorous agitation.

The group today criticised chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s announcement that he would not hold talks with KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi, who has been spearheading the movement against the government to give land patta to those living on the hills, wetlands and government lands.

It said it was ready for talks without Akhil Gogoi.

“The chief minister’s announcement against talks proves the government’s insincerity to resolve the important issue of land rights. If the government does not invite us for discussion on the issue, we will have no option but to launch a massive agitation after December 9 and the government will be held responsible for any kind of eventuality,” the president of the mancha, Amar Bezbaruah, said.

The ultimatum assumes significance in view of the fact that a massive rally demanding land rights had turned violent on June 22 last year and three persons had died after police fired to disperse a mob in front of the state secretariat at Dispur.

The government had constituted a committee led by Bhumidhar Barman, which suggested that the genuine landless people living on government land for 10 years will be given 1.5 kotha of land but the KMSS and the mancha had rejected the committee’s recommendation.

It demanded that all those who had settled in the city hills or wetlands till June 22, 2011, would have to be given patta (land document).

The KMSS had taken out a rally in the city on November 8 in support of its demands, including land rights. The Kamrup (metro) district administration assured them that chief minister Tarun Gogoi would hold talks with them within a month. But the chief minister later announced that he would not talk to Akhil Gogoi.

Bezbaruah said they were ready for talks on the issue of land rights without Akhil Gogoi.

“Every problem can be sorted out through talks and we want a permanent solution to the land rights issue through dialogue. But the government has failed to initiate steps for talks despite their repeated promise to the people,” Bezbaruah said.