|KMSS activists protest in front of the Kamrup (metro) deputy commissioner’s office in Guwahati on Thursday
Guwahati, July 31: The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti today suspended its 11-day agitation after Dispur invited it for talks on Saturday.
The invitation for talks came soon after a KMSS member slashed his wrist to protest against the state government’s decision to use agricultural land lying unused for 10 years for non-agricultural purposes.
The KMSS protesters, led by the group’s president Akhil Gogoi, took out a rally from Dighalipukhuri to the Kamrup (metro) deputy commissioner’s office around 10.30am.
Around noon, while the protesters were sitting in front of the DC’s office, one of them, Rihon Boro, cut his wrist with a blade. He was immediately led away by police personnel for treatment. Boro lives in Lichubagan here.
|Security personnel keep vigil during the protest. Pictures by UB Photos
Soon after, additional deputy commissioner Dhrubajyoti Das informed the KMSS that additional chief secretary, revenue and disaster management department, Subhash Das, would hold discussions with a five-member delegation of the group. The KMSS members, on a hungerstrike since July 21, then suspended their agitation.
“We have decided to suspend our agitation as the state government wants to discuss the issue. We will make it clear to the state revenue department that the KMSS will never allow agricultural land to be used for non-agricultural purpose,” Akhil said, addressing over 5,000 KMSS members.
Revenue and disaster management minister Prithvi Majhi told The Telegraph that the proposal to use barren land lying unused for 10 years for industry and construction was under chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s consideration.
“The proposal was submitted by a committee as we require land for industrial purpose also. We want to use only that land which has been lying unused for 10 years,” he said.
The KMSS has, however, been opposing the move. Akhil said huge areas of agricultural land have remained unused for years because of silt and sand piled up during floods. But instead of taking measures to reclaim that land and making them fit for agricultural use, the government was trying to hand them over to real estate firms and business groups.
“The government is concerned about land for industries but they seem to be not bothered about how we can reclaim the land destroyed by the annual floods,” he added.
The KMSS has been demanding that the government give at least 12 bighas of land with sufficient irrigation facilities to the landless in the rural areas and 1.5 kotha to the landless living in urban areas.
Another KMSS member, Pranab Boro, had immolated himself in front of the state secretariat on February 24 this year in protest against the state government’s alleged discrimination in distribution of land patta (deeds) to the landless in Guwahati. On June 22, 2011, three persons died in police firing during an anti-eviction rally of the KMSS in front of the state secretariat.
Police and CRPF personnel were deployed today to avoid a similar situation.
Land under cultivation of any form cannot be used for real estate, industry and trade
If any plot of land has not been cultivated for 10 years, the government must first take steps to make it arable
Land cannot be converted for industrial use without the consent of villagers, panchayats and citizens and without public hearing/hearings, for which notice has to be issued a month in advance
Three-fourth local voters must attend any public hearing. More than 80% of those who take part must give consent through ballot to a proposal of conversion. Consent for public hearing must be ratified by the panchayat
If no activity takes place within three months, such land shall have to be returned to the original villager