January 22, 2021 3:10:25 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will distribute more than 1 lakh land documents to people from indigenous communities of poll-bound Assam in Sivasagar district on Saturday.
Assam is expected to go to polls in April and this will be Prime Minister Modi’s first visit to the state in the run-up to the election. 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 hearth)”.
“It is for the first time that landless indigenous people will be freshly allotted land and given pattas,” Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said on the occasion. Beneficiaries will also include those who were allotted land earlier, but will now be given pattas.
The beneficiaries—over one lakh people across the state—have been identified by the sub-divisional land advisory committees in the districts, a government official said.
The Sonowal-led government has already allotted 1.10 lakh pattas over the last four-and-a-half-years, the official added. “Having a patta is very important and is useful for several other purposes as well. It will also allow them to secure bank loans against their land,” the official said.
The distribution will take place at historic Jerenga Pothar (field) in Sivasagar. The field holds significance in Assamese history because it was here that the 17th-century Ahom princess Joymoti was said to have been tortured and killed by her brother-in-law for not revealing the whereabouts of her husband.
The alleged encroachment of land by “doubtful citizens” is a pivotal issue in Assam politics, and the BJP had campaigned strongly on this plank during the 2016 elections.
But in 2019, the BJP faced opposition to the Cirizenshp Amendment Act in Assam over concerns that it was detrimental to the interests of the indigenous people. Two new political parties—the Assam Jatiya Parishad and the Raijor Dal—owe their genesis to the anti-CAA protests. Both are talking about an alliance against the BJP for the coming elections.
On the other hand, this week, the Congress and five other parties — the CPI, the CPI(M) and the CPI(ML); the AIUDF and the Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM) — officially announced their pre-poll ‘grand alliance’. The alliance is silent on who will be their chief ministerial face.
Home Minister Amit Shah, who sounded the poll bugle in Assam last month, had said that the newly formed political parties in Assam were trying to help the Congress win. BJP president JP Nadda, addressing a rally earlier this month in Assam, said the party will always protect Assam’s culture.
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