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KMSS clashes with cops

- Activists detained for taking out rally without permission, released later

Guwahati, July 28: Police detained Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) leader Akhil Gogoi and some of his supporters here today for taking out a rally without permission, opposing the Assam government’s recent directive to convert unused agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes.

Akhil and hundreds of his supporters were detained as they clashed with the police near Cotton College around 1pm.

“They had neither sought permission for the rally nor did they intimate us. Hence, Akhil was detained under Section 151 CrPC, fearing possibility of tension,” senior superintendent of police (city) A.P. Tiwari told The Telegraph.

The KMSS said 71 members, including Akhil, were detained and released at 6pm.

A group of KMSS members have been staging a hunger strike near Dighalipukhuri here since July 21, opposing a memorandum issued by the state revenue department on June 17, seeking to use the agricultural land lying unused for more than 10 years, for non-agricultural purposes.

“We will stop the government by any means from implementing its order. We had staged a peaceful hunger strike but no one from the government turned up to listen to us. So we decided to take to the streets but the police mercilessly beat up our supporters. Our protest will continue till the government does away with the plan to convert agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes,” the publicity secretary of KMSS, Dhaijya Konwar, said.

The police and CRPF personnel had stopped the KMSS members near Cotton College as they made their way towards the Kamrup (metro) deputy commissioner’s office. Some of the protesters were lathicharged by the police.

Sources said the police detained Akhil and his supporters as similar protests in the past had turned violent.

Three persons were killed and several injured in police firing during an anti-eviction rally in front of the state secretariat on June 22, 2011.

Another KMSS member, Pranab Boro, had immolated himself in front of the state secretariat on February 24 this year, opposing the alleged discrimination by the state government in distribution of land patta (deeds) to the landless, including hill dwellers in Guwahati.

The KMSS has been opposing the move saying that huge areas of agricultural land remained unused for years because of the silt and sand piled up during floods.

“Instead of taking steps to reclaim the land and making it fit for agricultural use, our government is trying to hand it over to business groups. This is illegal, as there is prohibition in the Assam government revenue laws. We will never allow this to happen and will go the extra mile to foil such a bid,” Akhil said.

The KMSS has been demanding that the state government must give at least 12 bighas of land with sufficient irrigation facilities to the landless in rural areas and 1.5 kotha to the landless living in urban areas.

The peasants’ body has also been alleging that instead of taking steps to reclaim land affected by annual floods, the state government was trying to hand them over to business groups, real estate firms and big businessmen.

The KMSS have also been opposing the ongoing eviction drive in the city’s waterbodies and government land saying that the government should also demolish the similar constructions by business groups.