Cases were reported where even suspected foreigners who first worked as agricultural labourers for indigenous people and then cultivated the same land as co-sharers of crops, later purchased the land. Whether the agricultural land is purchased by the non-indigenous, non- cultivator Indian citizens or by suspected foreigners, the registration and transfer of such land takes place without any fuss or qualms — HS Brahma Committee Report
GUWAHATI, May 14: The Committee for Protection of Land Rights of Indigenous People of Assam has revealed that a section of corrupt State Revenue Department officials is rendering help in the illegal transfer of indigenous people’s agricultural land to illegal migrants from Bangladesh as well non-indigenous traders.
“Some cases were reported where even suspected foreigners who first worked as agricultural labourers for indigenous people and then cultivated the same land as co-sharers of crops, later purchased the land. Whether the agricultural land is purchased by the non-indigenous, non-cultivator Indian citizens or by suspected foreigners, the registration and transfer of such land takes place without any fuss or qualms. This has led to transfer of huge blocks of cultivable land both in rural and town areas, particularly in rural areas, which have been subsequently included in town areas,” the committee headed by former Chief Election Commissioner Hari Shankar Brahma stated in its final report.
The Brahma Committee, which submitted its final report to the State Government recently, has cited instances as to how indiscriminate encroachment on government land/ tea gardens across the State is taking place under the very nose of government officials. Transfer of agricultural land for non- agricultural use, although not prohibited, needs permission from the deputy commissioner concerned.
According to the Assam Land and Revenue Regulation 1886, the land allotted by the government for specific purposes such as for tea gardens, if not being used for the said purpose, can be taken back by the government. The Brahma Committee has observed that the land of the abandoned tea garden near Sonapur in Kamrup metropolitan district has been transferred to private institutions and resorts.
The committee said protection of land rights of the indigenous people depends on the implementation of the Assam Accord by sealing the India-Bangladesh border, and detection and deportation of illegal migrants from Bangladesh as illegal migrants have been identified as the “most serious threat” to the land rights and identity of indigenous people.
According to the Brahma Committee report, paramilitary forces, including the BSF, engaged in guarding the India-Bangladesh border are facilitating entry of such illegal migrants from the neighbouring country to Assam after taking bribes.
“Apart from the unsealed Indo-Bangladesh international border through which regular infiltration from Bangladesh take place, there is a human factor that facilitates facile infiltration from Bangladesh into Assam. This human factor relates to corruption at the level of international borders. It is a public knowledge that (on) the borders which are guarded by paramilitary forces including the BSF, illegal Bangladeshis find their easy way into Assam by bribing the Border Security Forces. If, what is reported has any element of truth, it is stated that one has only to pay Rs 200 to 500 or so to the security forces per head of infiltrating Bangladeshis,” the committee said.
The committee has recommended that the international borders, including road and river ways, should not only be completely and effectively sealed but also guarded by security forces made up of the CRPF, Assam Rifles, ITBP and a percentage of Assam Police in addition to the BSF in order to minimize the element of corruption at the international border levels.