Assam man kills self demanding land rights

Guwahati, Feb 24: A man died after setting himself ablaze outside the Assam capital complex in Dispur Monday, protesting the state’s refusal to give land pattas (deeds) to people.

The man in his 40s – identified as Pranab Boro – was rushed to the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital, but he died from his severe injuries.

“The person received over 90 percent burn injuries and he was brought here in a critical condition. We tried our best to save him but he died around 4.30 p.m.,” said hospital superintendent Ramen Kalita.

Police and paramilitary forces were Monday deployed in and around the city to prevent any untoward incident in view of a protest called by farmers’ organisation Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS).

The KMSS had threatened to launch a strong protest, including self-immolation, if the government did not pay heed to its demands.

The state recently approved giving land pattas to families residing on government land till 2001. However, the government made it clear that land deeds would not be given to people living on forest land and in wetlands.

The KMSS has been demanding land deeds for people living also on forest land and wetlands till Dec 13, 2005.

“We have been demanding implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, and land rights to indigenous people,” said KMSS general secretary Kamal Kumar Medhi.

The government’s refusal to implement the act led to Boro’s self-immolation, he said.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi termed the incident as “unfortunate”.

“This is unfortunate and I don’t see any justification for the self-immolation by a person. I am giving land pattas to people but how can we give land pattas to those who had encroached forest land and water bodies?” he said.

“There is a government of India policy and I cannot violate this,” Gogoi said.

The chief minister later said the state government would bear the responsibility of Boro’s family. The deceased left behind his wife and two minor children.

Gogoi said that if necessary, the government would take legal action against those who instigated the man into self-immolation.

IANS