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Freeing Xatra land from encroachment

Encroachment of land belonging to the Xatra institutions of Assam has been going on for several decades.

Xatra land

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  9 Jan 2022 2:49 AM GMT

Encroachment of land belonging to the Xatra institutions of Assam has been going on for several decades. There have been numerous incidents of encroachers systemically encroaching upon Xatra land in different districts, and in most cases, the encroachers are people of doubtful citizenship credentials. It is common knowledge that most of such encroachments have occurred in Barpeta, Nagaon, Morigaon, Nalbari and Kamrup districts. Many Xatras have practically disappeared because of the encroachment which reminds me of the remark made by the Supreme Court of India in the famous 'Sarbananda Sonowal versus the Union of India' judgment of July 2005, in which the apex court had likened infiltration to Assam from Bangladesh to any external aggression. There is no exact statistics about the extent of encroachment on Xatra land. The Asom Xatra Mahaxabha had in November 2021 claimed that it had conducted a survey and found that 7,742 bighas of land belonging to 29 different Xatras in the state are under encroachment. The previous government headed by Sarbananda Sonowal had cleared all encroachment on land belonging to the Bardowa Xatra in Nagaon district and Patekibari Xatra in Morigaon district. These two Xatras lies in close vicinity of each other, and any ordinary citizen, on visiting these two Xatras, will easily understand how systematically encroachment was carried out there by people belonging to a particular community whose roots are not in this land. Though there was enough scope under provisions of the Assam Accord to evict the encroachers and free land belonging to the Xatra institutions, it remains a mystery why no government before 2016 had ever given serious thought to it. The present government deserves praise for having constituted a commission headed by senior AGP leader and former minister Pradip Hazarika to conduct a spot survey of the Xatras and determine the extent of encroachment. While the Commission, which also has BJP legislators Rupak Sarma and Mrinal Saikia as members, has already begun its survey, the government has made an appeal to the people to submit representations and reports about such encroachment in their respective areas within the next two months. It is now the duty and responsibility of the Axam Xatra Mahasabha, various Xatradhikars and other Xatra officials, as well as leaders of various organizations which claim to stand for the protection of Assam's identity and culture, to submit memorandums and representations before this Commission so that the task of eviction of encroachers is not just left to the government.

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