Madhupur Xatra on last legs as squatters gobble up land


By Our Staff Reporter

Cooch Behar, Jan 1: Once spread over an area of some 500 bighas, Madhupur Xatra today is left with just 18 bighas of land. Squatters are having a field day due to indifference of both the West Bengal as well as Assam government.

The worst part is that till date no survey or demarcation has been done at the official level to ascertain how much land the Vaishvite mostery had or has currently.

But the Xatra has been paying land revenue (khaj) to West Bengal government religiously.

"The Koch king had given around 100 acres of land to Srimanta Sankardev, who had taken it in the me of Chaturbhuj (Lord Vishnu). The land encompassed three villages. A large part of that area was gobbled up by river Torsha," says Somoni Rai, a local elder.

It is learnt that Hindu refugees were also settled in the Xatra land post-Independence.

The successive Xatradhikars had also doted a portion of the land. The Madhupur LP School, Madhupur Lakhikanta High School and other structures stand in these doted lands. Locals cultivate in a plot of land measuring 45 bighas, which virtually is not under the control of the Xatra.

"The villages adjacent to the Xatra continued to expand, usurping land of the historic site," Rai adds.

In fact, settlers are selling their land even though it cannot be registered as the area is under the jurisdiction of West Bengal Debuttar Board.

The Xatra's pond has been taken over by the local panchayat, locals allege. "The then AGP government had taken up the matter with former Chief Minister of West Bengal Jyoti Basu, but there was no response," says Sankar Das, secretary of the Xatra committee. "Even Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has been told about the predicament of the Xatra several times, but he has been indifferent. He has failed to pursue the issue with his West Bengal counterpart," Das rues.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had four years back announced that the government would set up a Xatra Protection Force. But like many other announcements, this promise too remains stillborn.

General secretary of the Xatra committee Kumar Deepak Das said a memorandum was also submitted recently to Mamata Banerjee, seeking action against the encroachers.

"The wall of the Xatra has helped protect the main structure. Else, encroachment had posed a threat even to the main structure," Das said.

Axom Xatra Mahasabha president Jitendra Pradhani said he had submitted a report to the then Assam Chief Minister late Hiteshwar Saikia regarding the encroachment in the Madhupur Xatra, but it did not yield any outcome. (concluded)

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