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People of 539 villages yet to be within Panchayati Raj,Bodo Organisations irked

GUWAHATI: It is quite strange that even after 70 years of Independence, 50,000 people of 539 villages in Assam have not been included in the Panchayati Raj system. These villages are populated by “forest dwellers” as declared by the Government of Assam. Meanwhile, the All Boro Students Union (ABSU), National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB-P), and the People’s Joint Action Committee for Bodoland Movement (PJACBM) has given a week’s time to the State Government to include the populace of these villages in the panchayat raj and also hold the local elections as per the declared schedule, then the organizations would voluntarily conduct local polls there.

The people living in these 539 villages are not getting the development schemes under the Panchayati Raj system. Thus they are being deprived of the various benefits in the sectors of Health Care, Education, Drinking Water, Electricity, Road Communication, etc, besides livelihood. There are many other issues that the women, children, farmers and senior citizens of the villages are encountering.

The 539 villages of Sonitpur and Biswanth districts come under the Tezpur Lok Sabha Constituency and the four Legislative Assembly constituencies of Dhekiajuli, Sootea, Rangapara and Biswanth. Interestingly, 482 villages alone fall in Sonitpur district.

President of ABSU, Pramod Boro said: “The people living in these 539 villages are not illegal foreigner migrants but are genuine and bonafide citizens of India and have legitimate right for voting in panchayat election. How is it possible that while they can vote in the Assembly and Parliamentary elections, they cannot cast their votes in the panchayat polls?

“ABSU leaders met the Chief Minister not less than six times on this serious issue. Other organizations have also submitted memoranda to the departments concerned. No one is keen to implement the notifications of the government. The officers blame it on Dispur saying that there is no order to the effect whereas the government says that it is the job of the bureaucrats. So, where do we go to? If the government does not solve this issue within a week, then we’ll carry out a massive democratic movement and conduct the local polls ourselves!”

The Government had issued a notification on February 11, 2016 that the Forest Dwellers would be included in the voters lists of the respective gaon panchayats. The other orders to similar effect were the one issued from the Department of Panchayat and Rural Development (PNRD) on December 27, 2016 and also the one issued by the Additional Secretary, PNRD on December 20, 2016.

However, the strangest fact is that none of the orders is being carried out by the authority concerned.

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