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�Citizenship must for land allotment�

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Dec 31 - Reacting to the ongoing clamour for granting of land rights to �landless people� � including on the city�s hills and forests � public activist Prof Deven Dutta today said that under no circumstances should land settlement and ownership right (patta) be given to anyone under pressure from certain organizations.

And as for settlement on hills and forestland, Prof Dutta said, it was preposterous to even think of such a proposition, given that the State was rapidly losing its green cover.

�Any land allotment exercise as has been proposed by the State Government must be preceded by strict verification of the citizenship status of the people who are sought to be settled on government land. Unless this is done, a messy land settlement exercise will be tantamount to hitting the last nail on the coffin of the Assamese people,� Prof Dutta said.

Prof Dutta also appealed to the State Government to �sincerely receive feedbacks� from all concerned, including political parties and people�s organizations regarding the draft proposal of land policy.

Prof Dutta also questioned the rationale behind the ongoing vociferous demand for granting of land rights for �farmers� in the city�s forested hills.

Prof Dutta added that slipping of land rights from the hands of the indigenous would trigger an existential crisis for the sons of the soil, jeopardizing their very survival.

�Land being the only permanent asset of a community or a composite society, it is evident that land rights are inalienably linked to political rights. Disturbingly, large-scale infiltration from across the international border as also immigration from other States has led to slipping of land rights from the hands of the indigenous populace in Assam,� he said.

Warning that losing of land rights from the hands of the indigenous people was fraught with ominous and irreversible consequences on the State�s socio-economic and political fronts, Prof Dutta said that it was a fact that political rights of the indigenous were gradually eroding as a result of the slipping of their land rights.

�It is because of such disturbing developments that outsiders are increasingly dominating our constituencies during elections,� he added.

Castigating the political parties for their obsession with �vote bank, divisive politics, and new political equations ahead of the forthcoming Assembly polls,� Prof Dutta said that all the parties were same in that they could not see beyond their political interests even as the State and its people were engulfed by a crisis.

�Suspected foreigners are increasingly falling on forestland but the Government remains mute. Foreigners are getting land rights and documents pertaining to citizenship,� he said.

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