SIVASAGAR, Dec 5 - The effort to place the historic Charaideo Hills in the esteemed UNESCO World Heritage Site list by the State government seems to have run into troubled waters with a divided survey monitoring committee over jurisdiction of the site in Charaideo hills. The members, including Jiten Borpatra Gohain, historian Prof Dilip Buragohain, Dr Jakirul Alam and their supporters, in a press conference at the Audiocity Auditorium here on Tuesday alleged that a section of the residents in the historic site in collusion with some members of the committee have been illegally occupying land adjoining the hills and putting up all sorts of obstacles to survey work in the Charaideo hills.
The first Ahom king Saulung Sukapha set up his capital city in the historic Charaideo hills around 1230 AD after entering the Brahmaputra Valley in 1228. The hills contain hundreds of earthen mounds built over the burial ground of the kings and their numerous queens, which like the pyramids of Egypt have been attracting generations of tourists and is a revered place for the Ahoms. Jiten Borpatra Gohain, former Professor of History in Namrup College and a member of the survey monitoring committee alleged that the government declared about 4,756 bighas of land in the Charaideo hills and its adjoining area to be included in the heritage site project entailing a survey of the entire area afresh.
On November 8 last, Revenue Minister Jogen Mohan visited the area with the Deputy Commissioner of Charaideo, Sonari MLA and other officials and instructed the Charaideo TE General Manager to cooperate with the survey work. But some persons occupying government land in the area and setting up small tea gardens have started threatening members of the seven-member team, including Jiten Borpatra Gohain, Dr Jakirul Alam and historian Dilip Borgohain to stop conducting any further survey in the area.
Some members in the government survey committee are Satyen Konwar and Mridul Konwar (both government teachers) Jay Bora (fourth grade employee of Archaeological Department) and Atul Konwar (tea planter ) did not cooperate with the survey work at all.
During boundary wall construction work by the State Archaeology Department in 2018, the illegal settlers and land grabbers created much trouble necessitating imposition of Section 144 CrPC in the area. People disturbing the survey work harbour the apprehension that a UNESCO Heritage Site, if declared, will bring an end to all illegal activities like land grabbing in the area.
However, Borpatra Gohain added that the survey work was completed with great difficulty as per the wishes of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and the report has been submitted to the concerned authority. He said that the present government map includes only 576 bighas of land of Dag No. 7 in Charaideo as the area protected by the Central and the State Archaeology departments consisting only 12 ancient maidams, while about 200 other maidams are laying scattered in the Charaideo hills in utter neglect.
The committee in a release said that there are altogether 465 maidams in the Charaideo hills which includes maidams of 33 kings, 107 queens, 75 regional (subsidiary) kings of Namrup, Charing and Tipam and their 250 queens. A large number of them have been encroached by unscrupulous persons and coal mafia by making them private land, the release stated.
The Ahom Sabha�s Sivasagar Zila Samity in a release here yesterday urged the Land Revenue Settlement authority and the Government of Assam to find out all ancient relics belonging to the Ahom period and take adequate preservative measures to save them from illegal land grabbers.
The release of the Ahom Sabha pointed out that there are more than 200 maidams still lying neglected from Bali Maidam in the north of Charaideo hills to Fuleswari Kunwari Maidam at Lengibor Borpukhuri, which need to be taken care of by the concerned department.
The Ahom Sabha cautioned the Survey committee formed in a meeting in Charaideo Deputy Commissioner�s office on September 3, 2019 not to exclude any monument or relics in the survey work as each has its own story to tell and has immense historical value.
Meanwhile, the Charaideo district committee of Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) and Ahom Yuva Samaj ( AYS) countered the allegations through releases to the media that recent the Central government declaration of inclusion of Sivasagar as one of the Iconic Sites in the country and allocation of Rs 500 crore for its development has created divisive politics in the matter involving the Charaideo hills.
Similarly, AJYCP has also challenged the maidam survey committee members about their claims that the historic site is spread over 4,756 bighas of land. If it has that much of land, then why the proposed Saulung Sukapha University site had to be shifted to another place which required only 1,500 bighas of land.
In a release, Ramen Chowdhury and Sandip Prasad Neog, president and general secretary of AJYCP�s Charaideo district unit, alleged that some members of the standing committee have hatched a plot to include the Charaideo hills area in Sivasagar district instead of Charaideo district. They made serious allegations that one of the members, Dr Jakir Alam had been trying to divert attention with covert anti- BJP stance in the matter through press meeting in Sivasagar instead of in Charaideo.
Satyen Gohain, president of Ahom Yuva Samaj through another release to the media questioned the audacity of Dr Jakir Alam to teach Ahom history to others and cautioned others not to misguide the people over Charaideo hills development issue which is replete with the sentiment and emotion of the Ahoms and burial ground of the great Swargadeos of yore.