Edited objectionable parts: Brahma

H.S. Brahma

Guwahati: Former Chief Election Commissioner H.S. Brahma on Wednesday said he had "edited and deleted some objectionable parts" in his report on land rights, included by five other members in their report, before submitting it to the Assam government with six suggestions in January 2018.

"I did not dilute anything as alleged by some members but edited and deleted some portions as those were biased, objectionable and allegations without supportive documents. This reduced the report from 196 pages to 146 pages. The committee's mandate was to suggest means to protect land rights of the indigenous communities and not to make objectionable comments or statements against any community. There were comments against some matters related to conflicts with neighbouring states which are sub judice, pending either in high courts or in the Supreme Court. Some comments were against society," Brahma, who was the chairman of the committee, told The Telegraph over phone.

Brahma's statement has brought the cracks among the committee members into the open. Two other members of the committee, Rohini Kumar Baruah, former bureaucrat, and Ajoy Kumar Dutta, former MLA, had recently alleged that Brahma had "diluted" some serious issues raised by them in the report. Brahma and another member, Srikumar Dohutia, had submitted a 146-page report to chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal in January while another report by Baruah, Dutta, Romesh Borpatragohain, Anil Bhattacharyya and Manoj Kumar was sent by post as they did not get an appointment with the chief minister.

The BJP-led government, which came to power in May 2016 with the pre-poll promise of protecting jati, mati and bheti (community, land and home) had constituted the seven-member committee in February last year.

Brahma said his report recommends that the government carry out survey and settlement and offer land to deserving indigenous people, to people affected by floods and other natural calamities, young boys and girls who have opened small tea gardens, conduct survey in all the 800 big tea gardens and identify surplus land for giving them to small tea growers.

"Tea garden land is government land and was leased out to the gardens. Many gardens have surplus land whereas many small tea growers are struggling for land. These local young boys and girls should be given land," he said.

Brahma also suggested a proper survey in the sar areas and bringing them under administrative mechanism as the sars comprise four per cent of the state's total area, clearing encroachments on lands belonging to xatras, temples, Debuttar boards and other religious bodies, forests and wetlands and updating revenue administration and land laws.

The other report said unabated encroachment of land by illegal migrants from Bangladesh was the "most serious threat" to land rights and identity of the indigenous population of Assam. It termed the sars (sandbars) to be the "hotbed" of illegal migrants and anti-social activities. The report alleged that a section of revenue department officials had helped transfer indigenous people's agricultural land to non-indigenous traders and illegal migrants for non-agricultural use.

Sonowal, on April 24, had instructed the revenue department to implement the recommendations of both reports.


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