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Legal experts for thrust on land rights

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Dec 26 - With a special thrust on securing the land rights of the indigenous people of the State, several eminent legal experts of Assam today called for a realistic approach to protect the identity of the Assamese people through constitutional safeguard.

Former Supreme Court judge Dr Mukundakam Sarma while inaugurating a discussion on, �Constitutional Safeguard for the Indigenous Assamese Communities and Tribes� compared the migration in Assam with a silent invasion.

�Unlike the natural process of migration and assimilation, the illegal influx in Assam has posed a threat to the identity of the people,� he observed.

However, to fight it effectively, there should be a high level of awareness among the people regarding the problem,� he said. Also referring to the Supreme Court�s judgement on the IMDT Act and Justice Venkatchaliah report, he said that the Assamese people must have a deeper knowledge of the issue and its corresponding matters like border sealing and land reforms as well.

The discussion was organised by the Lok Jagaran Mancha, Assam.

Senior advocate Upamanyu Hazarika stressed on the urgency to address the issue of safeguard alongside the NRC update process. Also stressing the need to address the land issue in order to find a meaningful solution to the problem, he stated that the process should be carried forward keeping aside the complex components like �definition of indigenous people�, which tends to divide people, rather than helping the cause.

�Except for the plains of Manipur and Assam, land is protected in the North East. Whereas Manipur has also come up with the Land Alienation Bill, in Assam we have everything, right from Government schemes to political support in favour of the illegal Bangladeshis,� he said, citing the example of Boko, Sipajhar and Mayong areas, where illegal infiltrators are flourishing.

Suggesting to bring some restrictions on land transfer in the State, he said that unless steps are taken on time, the Assamese people would become minority in their own land, as predicted by two independent studies in Assam.

Senior advocate Hiranya Kumar Bhattacharya also put emphasis on a realistic way to address the issue of safeguard. �Article 370, against which a big campaign is going on, won�t be applicable in the State, as suggested by many.

First of all, the people must have the feeling of oneness to address the issue of protecting their identities. Political rights and land rights are the two key things that empower the infiltrators. Our efforts must be directed towards addressing such core issues rather than wasting time and energy on an unrealistic approach,� he added.

He further suggested constituting a judicial commission to investigate the land pattas obtained by non-Indians in Assam, including sor sapori, tribal blocks and belts, and nullify such possessions.

Senior advocate Krishna Kanta Mahanta also stated that though a specific accord was signed to address the issues of Assam, in the absence of any laws, the accord could not be implemented.

Dr Rohini Kumar Barua, who presided over the inaugural function today, supported an Upper House in the State Assembly so that all the communities find adequate representation.

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