GUWAHATI: Newly-floated regional political party, Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP), has decided to throw its weight behind the agitation staged by over 1400 ‘homeless’ families of Laika and Dodhia villages.
Members of AJP will stage a state-wide sit-in demonstration on January 21 demanding permanent settlement of the residents of the two villages under Dibru Saikhowa National Park in Upper Assam.
It may be mentioned that several hundreds of protesters belonging to the villages are camping at Lezaihola Borguri in Tinsukia town for the past one month now, braving cold weather and absence of basic healthcare and drinking water facilities.
Worse still, three protesters including a pregnant woman, have died after falling ill at the protest camp over the past four weeks.
“Our members will undertake a state-wide protest on January 21 demanding immediate relocation and rehabilitation of over 1400 families of Laika and Dodhia villages. Party members across districts, constituencies and regional units have been asked to stage a three-hour sit-in demonstration from 11am on January 21,” AJP general secretary Jagadish Bhuyan informed on Tuesday.
The party leader lamented that hundreds of villagers have been spending their lives in adverse conditions ever since the forest land, where they had been residing for several decades, was declared a protected area by the state government.
“The families belong to the indigenous community but have been living in a state of uncertainty. Besides, no alternative arrangements for their shelter and livelihoods have been made since the villages where they were living were declared protected area,” Bhuyan said.
The earthquake in 1950 had compelled the Mising families to shift base from Murkongselek in Dhemaji to the forest area in Dibru Saikhowa National Park.
“The forest department should free land in three or four protected areas for their relocation and rehabilitation. The government should show intent and convince the Centre that the cause of the Laika-Dodhia villagers’ protest/demand is valid and take pre-approval from Supreme Court to free protected forest area for their relocation,” he said.
The regional party also demanded implementation of the Brahma Committee’s recommendations (to safeguard lands of indigenous people) and provision of land patta to the landless people of Assam.
The Assam government had on December 30, 2020, constituted a ten-member committee to find out ways for relocation and rehabilitation of the residents by the end of this month.
But members of the Laika-Dodhia Rehabilitation Committee, which is spearheading the agitation supported by three frontline Mising organizations, are questioning the approach of the government as uncertainty prevails in regard to the time and place of the rehabilitation process.
“The chief minister has been promising much but we are not convinced. The high-level committee has not decided on the place and time of relocation,” Apio Taid, a member of the Laika-Dodhia Rehabilitation Committee told The Shillong Times on Tuesday.