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Meet on land mooted

Guwahati, March 3: Several organisations in Assam are planning a state-level convention to step up the land rights movement spearheaded by KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi.

The decision for the convention was taken during a citizens’ meet held here yesterday to condemn Akhil’s arrest. Among those present were representatives of the state unit of Aam Aadmi Party, AITUC, Sadou Asom Miyan Parishad, lawyers, journalists and student unions. The date for the convention has not been decided yet.

Satyen Deka, a lawyer who presided over the meeting, said the convention was necessitated in view of the government’s alleged move to curtail the land rights movement by arresting Akhil and five of his associates yesterday.

The meeting condemned the frequent eviction of the poor and the landless living in forests, near wetlands and on hills and handing over of the land to business groups “in a haphazard manner” by the government.

Akhil and his associates were arrested on charges of abetting the self-immolation of a KMSS member, Pranab Boro, in front of the state secretariat on February 24. Boro immolated himself to protest the alleged discrimination in land patta (deed) distribution by the state government.

Sources in the KMSS today said the convention would help bring together different citizens’ groups to discuss the problems being faced by the poor landless across the state because of lack of initiative to incorporate a comprehensive land use policy.

The KMSS will announce a fresh land rights movement on Sunday, the day Boro’s adya shradha will be performed at Gorchuk here.

“We hope Akhil will be granted bail on Thursday when his police custody will end,” a KMSS leader said.

The KMSS has been demanding revision of the Assam Land Revenue Regulation 1886 and a new comprehensive land use policy with proper provisions to allot land to business groups as well as the poor and the landless. The KMSS is demanding 12 bighas of land with irrigation facilities for the landless in the rural areas and 1.5 kothas to those in the urban areas.