| Akhil Gogoi at the news conference in Guwahati on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos |
Guwahati, Jan. 22: The KMSS today said it would launch a drive within a week to forcefully take over agricultural land being allegedly used illegally for non-agricultural purposes and distribute it among landless farmers and flood and erosion victims in Assam.
Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) president Akhil Gogoi said information accessed through the RTI Act had revealed that 9,247 bighas of agricultural land was illegally transferred for non-agricultural purposes in Kamrup district alone between 2009 and 2012 while the state government had informed the Assembly in December last year that it was only 347 bighas.
“Revenue minister Prithibi Majhi said in the Assembly that a total of 10,847 bighas of agricultural land had been transferred. But we have information that suggests that several lakh bighas of agricultural land have been transferred in the state. Many people will join us in taking control of the land from business groups and in giving it to the landless and those who live on the embankments after having lost their lands to floods and erosion,” Akhil said.
The KMSS has been opposing transfer of agricultural land for non-agricultural purpose, which is not permitted under the state revenue rule.
“According to our law, no person can possess more than 50 bighas of land but RTI applications revealed that businessmen own hundreds of bighas of agricultural land in Kamrup and Kamrup (metro) districts,” Akhil said.
He said the KMSS had decided to launch the drive as their repeated appeal to the business groups to return the agricultural lands to the landless had failed to yield any result. “We have submitted 35 memoranda to our additional chief secretary Subhash Das and even requested chief minister Tarun Gogoi during our meeting on December 9. The chief minister assured us that illegally occupied agricultural land would be returned but we haven’t seen the government taking any steps so far. We will launch the drive this week. Thousands will join us and forcefully take control of the land,” Akhil said.
The KMSS drive is likely to create law and order problems given the fact that similar protests by the organisation in the past for land rights had turned tense. A child had died and three persons were injured after police resorted to firing to control a mob, protesting anti-eviction drive on the hills in Guwahati, in front of the state secretariat here on June 22, 2011.
“The state government will be responsible for any law and order problem as it has neglected our repeated pleas to protect agricultural land,” Akhil said. The KMSS president said they held 35 meetings in different parts of the state before taking a final decision to launch the drive to occupy the lands. “More than 4.5 lakh people affected by floods and erosion are living on embankments as they lost their land in Majuli, Dibrugarh, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Dhubri and we will distribute the land to them,” he added.