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Assam Cong. leader petitions NHRC on ‘injustice’ to STs, OBCs

Assam’s Congress Legislature Party leader Debabrata Saikia has written to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) alleging “gross injustice” to people from some Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Class communities.

He cited the examples of some 1,300 families of “forest villages” facing eviction from eastern Assam’s Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and about 1,500 families set to lose their farmlands in central Assam’s Mikir Bamuni Grant because of a private solar power project

In his petition to the NHRC on Monday, Mr. Saikia said the State government was going back on its promise of suitably rehabilitating the people of Laikia and Dadhia in the national park and trying to evict them.

Mostly belonging to the Mising community, the villagers were settled in the area, now straddling Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts, after the major earthquake of 1950 displaced them from nearby areas. The area later became a wildlife sanctuary and upgraded to a national park in 1999.

Some 2,000 people from Laikia and Dadhia have been staging a protest from a makeshift camp outside the Tinsukia Deputy Commissioner’s office since December 20, 2020, seeking proper rehabilitation.

“Three protesters, including a pregnant woman, have died because they were unable to bear the chill of winter in the makeshift camp. Many other protesters are suffering from fever, nose-bleed, etc,” Mr. Saikia wrote.

Based on a report acquired from the Deputy Commissioner’s office, he said the families in question had been living in Laika-Dadhia since long before the area was notified as a wildlife sanctuary.

The Congress leader also drew the NHRC’s attention to the government’s move to evict primarily Karbi (ST) and Adivasi (OBC) communities from Mikir Bamuni Grant in Nagaon district. The land is to be handed over to a private solar power company.

Mr. Saikia said the affected families have been cultivating the land there as ‘ryots’ — tenant farmers — since 1981 and were now being removed without any proper notification to the affected families.

“Many of them were given only one day’s notice to file their objections, if any. The simple ryots do not possess any documents, such as record of rights, regarding the land they and their forefathers have been tilling for almost four decades. However, the Assam (Temporarily Settled Areas) Tenancy Act, 1971 provides for bestowing of ownership rights on ryots who cultivate a specific plot of land for three years in succession,” he wrote.

The Congress leader, who represents eastern Assam’s Nazira Assembly constituency, claimed the land allocation was being done on the basis of a false claim that it is uncultivated.

“A farmer was killed by wild elephants in the area in 2018 and the government paid compensation to the family but the report submitted by local officials concealed the fact that the area is an elephant corridor in an obvious ploy to facilitate the land allocation,” Mr. Saikia said.

He alleged that the “arbitrary” and hasty action of the government violated the legal land rights of the ryots.

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 6:14:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/assam-cong-leader-petitions-nhrc-on-injustice-to-sts-obcs/article33562619.ece

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