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Citizens question lack of transparency in deal

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Sept 9 � The Assam Government might have described the transfer of land to Bangladesh as a win-win situation for the State and Bangladesh, but not many people here are convinced. A section of concerned citizens has questioned the real intent of the treaty and how it would serve the interests of Assam.

The inability of the Government to be transparent about the land deal has made them apprehensive about its role. Most believe that the handing over a part of territory should have involved a larger debate before a consensus was reached.

Siddhartha Baruah, a lawyer practising in Gauhati High Court strongly resented the way the land was relinquished to Bangladesh by Indian authorities. He said, �It was only through the media that people in Assam came to know about the transfer of land, something that should have come from the legislature,� Baruah remarked.

He further questioned the Assam government�s stance about not being transparent in the entire process of land transfer. He, like many others, does not know precisely what the State will gain after the treaty comes into effect.

Voices are also being raised about the way the treaty was signed without any deliberation about its provisions in the State Assembly. Asma Hussain, a teacher at a prestigious city school, stated, �The Government�s decision to give away portion of Assam�s land without any prior debate on the floor of the Assembly can be termed unconstitutional. Any matter regarding State territorial boundary should not be agreed without proper debate��

The treaty, according to Gaurav Khemka, a young businessperson, will not serve any interest of the State. �Assam and Bangladesh border issue has always been a burning problem for Assam. Now the fresh angle of exchange of land without proper consensus from the public, I am sure, will further aggravate the issue and might also lead to more infiltration�.

The land between Assam and Bangladesh is not well demarcated and no proper fencing has been done on the border. The public was not taken into confidence and the signing of the treaty was done haphazardly without any thought as to what will be the implications and aftermath of it. There should be some data available to the citizens of Assam, he mentioned.

A retired professor of Gauhati Medical College, who did not wish to be named, believes that Assam�s interests were sidelined because of the Indian government�s intent on improving ties with Bangladesh. �So far I have not read or seen any mention of what Assam would gain from the land transfer� I suspect that even the Chief Minister does not know it�, she observed.

Meanwhile, the Students� Federation of India (SFI) has blamed the totalitarian attitude of the State and Union governments for signing the treaty ensuring the handover of land. The SFI has protested the signing of the treaty that was not preceded by any political discussions, and the way it was done while keeping the public in the dark.

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