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UPPL stages sit-in demanding land pattas for recognized forest dwellers

Our Correspondent
KOKRAJHAR, May 31: The United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) on Thursday staged a three-hour sit-in near DC office, Kokrajhar demanding allotment of land pattas to tribal and other traditional forest dwellers under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. The demonstration was also held at Gossaigaon and Salbari in Baksa district. Talking to reporters, the president of UPPL, Urkhao Gwra Brahma said the UPPL had been demanding land pattas for the tribal people who have been living in forest land over the years under the Forest Dwellers Act but the government and BTC authority had failed to do. He said as many as 13,290 inhabitants in forest land under Holtugaon Forest Division in Kokrajhar district with 11,208 tribal and 258 non-tribal people had sought land pattas under the Forest Dwellers Act but only 152 families of three villages under the same division had been given land pattas recently. Similarly, there are 106 forest villages under Kachugaon Forest Division but only three villages had applied for the land pattas, he said, adding that 1,216 families in Chirang district had been given land pattas out of 5,668 total families that included 4,860 tribal and 408 non-tribal families.

Brahma said the government had been delaying systematically while giving land pattas to the forest dwellers. He also reiterated that the matter was being politicized and certain political parties were taking advantage out of it. He questioned as to why only 152 families of three villages had been given land pattas and why the distribution of land pattas was being delayed abnormally?

Meanwhile, the president and secretary of Kokrajhar district UPPL in their memorandum to the Governor of Assam and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 was one of the key pieces in forest legislation which provided significant rights to recognized group of people to own land with patta. They said throughout Assam thousands of claimants had asked the government to allot land according to the law but the process was being delayed in many districts. They reiterated that the process of allotment of land to recognized forest village was being politicized. They also urged the government to expedite the process of issuing land pattas to ST and other traditional forest dwellers by strengthening the mechanism and to ensure that no genuine family was denied land rights as per the established law of the country.