By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, Nov 1: The Axam Xatra Mahaxabha (AXM) has raised the demand for the formation of a Directorate in the State administration for the protection, spread and development of the Xatriya culture.
Talking to The Sentinel today, AXM general secretary Kusum Kumar Mahanta said: "There are as many as 914 xatras in Assam and neighbouring West Bengal. The xatras are the institutions that carry forward the legacy of the Xatriya culture. However, what worries us is that the landed property of many xatras have been under the illegal encroachment. Over 7,000 bigha landed property of 32 xatras have been encroached upon by people of suspected tiolities."
Mahanta said that even the Guahati High did ask the state administration to free the xatra land from encroachers. The substance of the High Court order, according to Mahanta is: "The Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police of the districts concerned are directed to see that upkeep and maintence of Satras are taken care of and their sanctity as a place of worship is not allowed to be defied. As for maintence, the Revenue authorities of the districts should take proper legal steps and free these places of worship, 'Kirtanghar', 'mghar' and 'Satras' from encroachment."
Mahanta also said that theft is a threat to the xatras. He demanded of the State administration to take steps to check theft in Xatras, but little has been done towards that end. According to him, the High Court intervened and asked the State administration on this issue: "... We direct the respondent to decide the proposal of settings up of permanent police outpost expeditiously within 3 (three) months from the date of this order. (The judgement was issued on 27-03-1997)".
According to Mahanta, in an earlier case No. 22RA (B) 2004, the then Assam Board of Revenue Chairman CK Das delivered his verdict: "...the land given by the Ahom kings which latter came to be unknown as Dharmottar, Debottar and Brahmottar land. Therefore, it cannot be disputed now that the land is not Satra land. The provision to Section 15A of the Assam State Acquisition of Public ture Act, 1959 as amended, states that notwithstanding anything continued in the Assam Land and Revenue Regulation 1886, the right to transfer of land belonging to the above mentioned institutions to same religion in which the ownership of land was vested. Here it is seen that the so called tent who are given ownership right by the S.D.O (Sadar) Barpeta belong to another religion. Therefore, granting of ownership right of Satra land to a person belonging to a religion other than that of the person to whom the Satra belong is not permissible.
"Therefore, the impunged order passed by the SDO (Sadar) Barpeta is not valid and the same is liable to be set aside, also for the ground that the order was passed after institutioning the case against that person -without implementing the legal heirs."
Mahanta said that though there are standing orders of the High Court and the Revenue Board, the encroached xatra are lands are still with the encroachers and the problem of theft from Xatras is on the rise. "Taking all these problems into account, the formation of a separate directorate for xatras is a must," he added.