GUWAHATI, Sept 15: Prabajan Virodhi Manch (PVM), an anti-influx forum led by Supreme Court advocate Upamanyu Hazarika, has alleged that 77,420 bighas of land in the riverine areas of Sipajhar in lower Assam’s Darrang district “remain under encroachment by people of Bangladeshi origin while encroachment-affected indigenous people continue to be deprived of their due.”
Addressing reporters here on Wednesday, Hazarika claimed that contrary to the chief minister’s announcement in June to clear the encroached land in the riverine area, not one bigha of land has been freed from encroachment, barring 120 bighas which are a part of the temple complex.
“To show that this government is pro-indigenous, much publicity has accompanied the so-called agriculture project – Gorukhuti project. Land for the project has been acquired from the indigenous population whose villages are alongside the embankment. Only a few households from these villages have been included as a part of the project, while 10,000 bigha land of the local villagers is in the process of being acquired for the project,” he alleged.
“However, not a single inch of land encroached by people of Bangladeshi origin has been acquired for the project. Encroachers continue to farm land, carry out livestock activities and continue to remain wherever they are,” the PVM convenor claimed.
Hazarika further alleged that “the final nail in the coffin now comes from the present government, who has acquired land belonging to indigenous people for the agriculture project.”
“In fact, the indigenous inhabitants have been cultivating these lands for generations, including payment of revenue and there are grazing receipts dating back to 1923,” he pointed out.
Hazarika further alleged that “by grabbing the lands of the already victimised indigenous population it has sent out a very clear message that encroachers, particularly those of Bangladeshi origin, have a licence to grab our land and resources, even at the cost of depriving the local indigenous population.”