Updated: January 23, 2021 1:51:01 pm
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a public event at historic Jerenga Pothar (field) in Assam’s Sivasagar district on Saturday, attacked the previous governments in the state for depriving its lakhs of poor indigenous people of their land rights.
At the event, the Prime Minister ceremonially distributed over 1 lakh land pattas (land allotment certificates) to families from indigenous communities across the state.
Modi said lakhs of Adivasis, indigenous Assamese families were deprived of their land ownership rights even decades after independence, adding that provision of land rights to indigenous people of Assam will guarantee their pride, freedom, and protection.
Assam is expected to go to polls in April. The distribution of the land documents is in line with the promise made by the Sarbananda Sonowal-led government when it came to power in 2016— to protect “jati, mati and bheti (community, land, and earth)”.
“It is sad that even after so many years of independence, there are such indigenous families who, for one reason or the other, didn’t get legal rights over their own land in Assam. For this reason, a large section of the Adivasi community remained landless. …When our govt was formed in Assam, 6 lakh indigenous families did not have legal papers of their land,” said Modi.
The Sarbananda Sonowal-led Assam government has already allotted 1.10 lakh pattas over the last four-and-a-half-years, and today’s development adds over lakh more families to the list of beneficiaries.
“Earlier governments did not give priority to your concerns. But the Sarbananda Sonowal-led government is seriously working to solve your problems…Today, the Assam government is working to protect the language and culture of indigenous people along with protecting their rights over land,” Modi said.
Asserting that the fast-paced development of Assam is very important, PM Modi said, “The way to ‘Atmanirbhar Assam’ is through ‘Atmavishwaas’ (self-confidence) among the people here. 40 per cent of the state’s population is taking benefit of ‘Ayushmaan Bharat’ scheme of the Central government.”
Jerenga Pothar holds significance in Assamese history because it was here that the 17th-century Ahom princess Joymoti was tortured and killed by her brother-in-law for not revealing the whereabouts of her husband. Joymoti’s husband — Prince Godapani — ultimately became the king, brining an era of stability and peace in Assam, historians say.
Modi referred to Joymoti’s story in his speech and said, “This land is where Joymoti made the ultimate sacrifice for Assam’s future. I salute her courage and this land.” He added that the government is taking steps to include Sivasagar in the list of five most iconic archeological sites of India.
The previous governments in Assam never cared for the rights of those who “loved this sacred land”, he said adding that the land ownership certificates (pattas) will guarantee their ‘Swabhiman’ (pride), Swadheenta (freedom) and Suraksha (protection). He asserted that the BJP-led government is committed to protecting the land, language and culture of the indigenous people. He also lauded the state government for having freed the world-famous Kaziranga National Park from encroachers.
Paying homage to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his birth anniversary on Saturday, PM Modi said the celebration of the freedom fighter’s 125th birthday as Parakram Divas’ will inspire hope and national pride.
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