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Akhil deadline for revenue officials

Guwahati, Jan. 25: The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) today served a week’s deadline to the Assam government demanding legal action against revenue department officials who had allegedly helped Topcem Cements Private Ltd to acquire patta of 34 bighas of tribal-belt land at Khetri, on the city’s outskirts, in 2008.

The KMSS on Thursday forcefully occupied land at Senabor village under Sonapur revenue circle following which the company lodged an FIR and police registered a case against KMSS president Akhil Gogoi and his supporters. Senior superintendent of police (city), A.P. Tiwari, said Akhil and his supporters had been booked under Sections 147, 148 and 149 of the IPC (rioting with arms), Section 447 of the IPC (criminal trespass) and Sections 4 and 5 of Assam Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act, 2010.

Akhil today said information furnished through RTI application revealed that the land which they had forcefully occupied on Thursday was tribal belt land and questioned how the cement company had managed to get patta of the land.

“I am ready to go to jail but the state government must take action against the revenue officials who had illegally offered patta to the company. We demand chief minister Tarun Gogoi initiate action against officials in the Sonapur revenue circle for illegally transferring tribal belt land to the private company,” Akhil said here. He said according to their information, the cement company had procured 138.2 bighas of tribal belt land in Sonapur alone.

“There are other cement and coke units possessing more than 100 bighas of tribal belt land which is illegal. Besides, no person can own more than 50 bighas of land according to the ceiling act. How can these companies buy hundreds of bighas of land? They are illegally using the agricultural land for non-agricultural purpose. Instead of taking action against the officials, the government has registered a case against us but we will continue our drive and forcefully occupy the land,” Akhil said.

The KMSS said they had decided to forcefully occupy the land as repeated appeals to the state government to stop the illegal practice yielded no results.

“We had submitted 25 memoranda and staged 35 dharnas seeking enactment of a new land use policy and stop to illegal land use by companies, but nothing was done despite promises,” Akhil said.

The KMSS leader today appealed to private real estate companies to return the land in the city which they had illegally possessed for real estate projects. “If they do not return illegally-occupied land, we will forcefully take control of the apartments and distribute (them) among the poor, students, labourers and others.”

Land has been a contentious issue in Assam with business groups increasingly looking for plots and organisations like the KMSS alleging that the state government is offering land to business groups while poor farmers and flood and erosion victims are living on embankments. The KMSS said 4.5 lakh flood victims have been living on embankments in Majuli (Jorhat), Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Dibrugarh, Kamrup and Morigaon districts.

Six KMSS supporters were today arrested and remanded in judicial custody after they allegedly barged into the residence of businessman Kailash Lohia and assaulted a personal security officer.