GUWAHATI, June 30 � An appeal signed by a number of distinguished citizens has urged the State Government to make an impartial assessment of the violence during the recent Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) protest rally at Dispur Last Gate as also the issue of encroachment in the city�s hills and wetlands.
The appeal signed by Deva Prasad Baruah, Nirupama Borgohain, Udayaditya Bharali, Atulananda Goswami, Indibar Deuri, Devakanta Handique, Khanindra Chandra Das, Haidar Hussain and Arup Barbora, among others, also called for unconditional release of KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi.
�The Government�s action in the wake of the Dispur violence smacks of a vindictive attitude on the part of the authorities which seem adamant to crush democratic protests over genuine issues. The Government should hear the voice of the people,� it said.
Accusing the Government of adopting double standard in the matter of evicting encroachers, the statement said that while encroachment was a fact, it should also be remembered that a large number of the encroachers happen to be poor people compelled to reside in hills and wetlands because of several factors like unplanned urbanization, large-scale land acquisition by the land mafia, etc.
�These people engaged in daily wage labour or other petty works are permanent residents of Guwahati and are an indispensable part of the city�s daily life. But whereas those influential sections comprising politicians, businessmen, government officers and police, and intellectuals occupying hill and wetland areas are allowed to secure land rights,� it said, adding that �arbitrary and barbarous� eviction drives would be counter-productive.
Alleging that the Guwahati Master Plan was against the interests of the poor local populace of the city, the statement said that the Government�s action was agitating the affected people.
On the Dispur violence, the statement said that the adamant attitude of the authorities in not receiving the memorandum as demanded by the people aggravated the situation, resulting in the clash with police, and what followed was the �most tragic incident in the history of public protest in Guwahati.�
The citizens also demanded a judicial inquiry into the factors leading to the incident on that day. �A number of questions such as the uncalled-for delay in receiving the memorandum, the absence of women police and failure of the fire brigade remain unanswered, and only an impartial judicial probe can get to the root of the violence,� the statement said.