BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, May 23: One of the poll planks of the BJP during the election campaign trail was the rampant encroachment of xatra lands in the State. With Sarbanda Sonowal, having won handsomely from Majuli, set to take over reins as the new Chief Minister, there is much hope and enthusiasm among the people of the riverine island. Majuli, after all, is the repository of xatra culture, the hallowed place where Srimanta Sankardeva and disciple Madhavdeva laid the foundations of Vaishvite faith.
Xatradhikars from Majuli and elsewhere in the State will be among the galaxy of religious leaders who will grace the swearing-in of the BJP-led alliance ministry at Khapara on Tuesday. Catching up with Jitendra th Pradhani, Asom Sattra Mahasabha (ASM) president and Xatradhikar of Ramrai Kuthi of Chatrasal in Dhubri, The Sentinel elicited his views about the hopes pinned on the new government by the xatra community.
Speaking about the historic vote for change in Assam, Pradhani said that the xatra community too shares the fond expectations of the populace about the Sarbanda Sonowal-led government that will take oath tomorrow. "We have seen the spiritual side of Sonowal. He harbors a soft spot for our xatras. The problems threatening our xatras are long-term, which we want the new chief minister to tackle," said Pradhani.
Stressing on the urgent need to protect and preserve xatras, Pradhani pointed out that the Assam Accord too has a clause calling upon the government to shoulder this responsibility. "However, the reality is that over 1,000 bighas of xatra lands in Assam have been grabbed. As for xatras in West Bengal, the problem is even more serious. Xatras like Madhupur, Haripur, Kakotkuta and Bhela in the neighboring state have suffered from encroachment not only by common people, but also by the government there," Pradhani rued.
"Earlier, our delegations went to New Delhi to petition the Central government about protecting xatras as well as the land and heritage of Majuli. Dr Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister then. But nothing came of those visits. Xatradhikars from Majuli met Prime Minister rendra Modi too just before the assembly elections, requesting protection of Majuli from Brahmaputra's erosion, safeguarding xatras and their priceless artefacts, and to build up Majuli as a world heritage site," Pradhani said.
The ASM president said that the earlier Tarun Gogoi government did provide some funds for preserving xatras, 'but the full amounts promised were never released'.
"Our ardent hope is that the new government in Assam will solve the problems of Majuli and the xatras. We also wish it will take up the issue of protection of xatra lands in West Bengal with the government there. We have set up Rampur Xatra and Marichbari Xatra in Alipurduar district, as well as a Srimanta Sankardev Xatra at 95, Phulkadauri and two amghars at Chapgarh and Bhujaripara in Jalpaiguri district of the neighboring state. If we can do this much, surely a government can do much more to propagate the teachings of the Vaishvite gurus," concluded Pradhani.
It may be mentioned that Xatradhikars Pitambar Deva Goswami, nigopal Goswami, Jardan Goswami, Bhavanda Goswami, Dutta Deva Goswami, Paramanda Deva Goswami, Xarat Chandra Deva Goswami, Bhavanda Deva Goswami have already arrived in Guwahati to attend the swearing-in ceremony tomorrow.