By Our Reporter
Shillong: In its move to acquire more land for the New Shillong Township (NST) the Government has landed itself in a mess even as farmers from the area claim that land in possession of the Government at Mawdiangdiang was sold without their knowledge and consent by one Unikey Kharkongor of Laitumkhrah.
The affected farmers have stated that their land had been surreptitiously sold off to the Government without their knowledge by the ‘land mafia.’
“The land has been handed down to us by our ancestors since time immemorial. We have never seen any of the family members of Unikey”, a land owner, John Kharkongor told reporters here on Tuesday. He said the farmers were surprised to learn that their land was claimed by Unikey Kharkongor.
“It was only in 1992 that the then Syiem of Hima Mylliem, Laborious Syiem came to Umsawli to enquire about the land of Unikey”, Kharkongor said adding that the land claimed by Unikey was theirs and they had been cultivating in their own plot of land for years now. “We also have documents to prove our ownership,” John said.
Further elaborating on this, John informed that when the elder of Kharkongor clan, Kreid Kharkongor was alive, he had won the case in 1975 proving that the land was under Raid Mawpat. John said he owned a plot of land around 14 acres at Mawtari and 5 acres at Umsawli.
He also narrated an incident when one land agent, Ishra Malngiang had approached him saying that the government would like to acquire his land. ” I gave him the power of attorney, but after making the deed, Malngiang told me that my land would not be acquired”, he said.
Later John came to know that his name appeared as one of the land owners from whom the land has been acquired by the government.
Meanwhile, as per the Right to Information (RTI) documents received by CSWO president Agnes Kharshiing, it was revealed that two persons Unikey Kharkongor and Nearly Kharkongor have registered a deed of declaration with the government on June 4, 1992 claiming that they are the joint owners of the landed property known as Mawier measuring 2,372 acres more or less and located between Mawdiangdiang and Mawlong.
It also revealed that Unikey had requested the Syiem of Hima Mylliem to measure her land situated at Mawier under Raid Mawpat only on June 18, 1992.
“It was through the connivance of the land mafia that farmers’ land was sold to the government for the NST project without following due procedure for land acquisition”, CSWO president Agnes Kharshiing said.
Meanwhile the Meghalaya government claims that only 370.26 hectares of land has been acquired for NST project at Mawdiangdiang area.
The State Government is trying to raise funds to the tune of Rs 800 crore from various funding agencies as well as to acquire at least 1,200 hectares of land for NST in various parts of Mawdiangdiang area.