Skip to main content

Security forces used to 'forcibly' implement Assam solar power plant, 'suppress' protesters

Counterview Desk 

More than 150 academics, activists, students, lawyers, filmmakers and concerned citizens from Assam, North-East and across the country have taken strong exception to the deployment of security forces in the midst of a raging pandemic in Mikir Bamuni Grant, Nagaon district, Assam, to push forward the construction of Azure Power's solar power plant.
Claiming that the plant is being “constructed in an atmosphere of terror and fear on land forcibly taken over from cultivating farmers”, the signatories have called upon the Government of Assam to immediately withdraw state security personnel from the village and its surrounding areas and stop construction work on Azure Power’s solar power plant until the contested claims over the land have been settled.

Text:

For more than a year Karbi and Adivasi farmers of Mikir Bamuni Grant village in Nagaon district have been fighting to protect their lands, forcibly taken over by Azure Power Forty Private Limited for building a solar power plant. The land in question was cleared and cultivated by the ancestors of these farmers for generations.
Further, they possess inheritable occupancy rights to the land in the form of a khatiyan that was issued to their families in 1981. Ignoring their rights, the land was sold by descendants of the original land grant holder to Azure Power in August 2020. 
While multiple title suits challenging Azure Power’s claims to ownership over the land are ongoing in Nagaon district court, and the land stands as disputed land, Azure Power has refused to take into account the gross violations involved in sale of the land to them.
The land in question was sold to Azure Power by 8 family members of the descendants of the grant holder of Mikir Bamuni Grant. This was done in gross violation of the Assam Fixation of Ceiling on Land Holdings Act 1956, by transferring 276 bighas of land to a single family, even as the ceiling limits it to not more than 50 bighas. It was further done without first settling the rights of tenant cultivators to the land, as held under the Assam (Temporarily Settled Areas) Tenancy Act 1971.
These two key legislations that aim to democratise land ownership in Assam and ensure land to the tiller have been blatantly ignored, violated and trampled on, in order to unlawfully place the land exclusively in the hands of the landowner, who had no right to sell the land to Azure Power in the first place.
On at least two occasions the protesting farmers have been jailed for voicing their protest against this forceful takeover of the land under heavily police and the use of violence against them. On October 8, 2020, as Azure Power took possession of the land, once again under heavy police protection and after razing nearly 200 bighas of ripened paddy crop, 14 people were arrested and remanded to judicial custody to be released only 12 days later.
On December 29, while villagers resisted construction work on their lands, 4 people were arrested after a brutal midnight raid that night and were kept in jail for 63 days. In contrast, no action has been taken against the Lat Mandal who gave a false report that states the land in question has not been under cultivation for the last 10 years.
The government’s Census data exposes this lie and clearly indicates Mikir Bamuni Grant is an agrarian village. No action has been taken against the Samaguri Revenue Circle Officer or Deputy Commissioner of Nagaon District who did not settle the rights of the tenant cultivators before placing the land exclusively in the hands of the landholders. 
Ignoring all the violations involved in the transfer of land to Azure Power, the company has repeatedly used state security forces to bulldoze their way into the village, grab the land, and terrorise the villagers into accepting the power plant.
In the latest brazen use of violence to carry out their project, on May 10, 2021, in the middle of the worst peak of the coronavirus pandemic Azure Power has re-entered the village backed with heavy deployment of CRPF to once again terrorise villagers and suppress their right to protest against the theft of their land through coercion, violence and fear. 
Moreover, they have jeopardised the safety and security of all residents of Mikir Bamuni Grant by bringing in large number of outsiders at a time when the whole country is reeling from the debilitating impacts of pandemic.
We demand:
  • an immediate withdrawal of the security personnel from Mikir Bamuni Grant village and its surrounding areas
  • stop construction work on Azure Power’s solar power plant until the contested claims over the land have been settled
  • return the land to the cultivating farmers
  • take action against all state officials who have submitted false reports regarding cultivation and tenancy rights in Mikir Bamuni Grant
---
Click here for signatories

Comments

TRENDING

Vaccine nationalism? Covaxin isn't safe either, perhaps it's worse: Experts

By Rajiv Shah  I was a little awestruck: The news had already spread that Astrazeneca – whose Indian variant Covishield was delivered to nearly 80% of Indian vaccine recipients during the Covid-19 era – has been withdrawn by the manufacturers following the admission by its UK pharma giant that its Covid-19 vector-based vaccine in “rare” instances cause TTS, or “thrombocytopenia thrombosis syndrome”, which lead to the blood to clump and form clots. The vaccine reportedly led to at least 81 deaths in the UK.

'Scientifically flawed': 22 examples of the failure of vaccine passports

By Vratesh Srivastava*   Vaccine passports were introduced in late 2021 in a number of places across the world, with the primary objective of curtailing community spread and inducing "vaccine hesitant" people to get vaccinated, ostensibly to ensure herd immunity. The case for vaccine passports was scientifically flawed and ethically questionable.

'Misleading' ads: Are our celebrities and public figures acting responsibly?

By Deepika* It is imperative for celebrities and public figures to act responsibly while endorsing a consumer product, the Supreme Court said as it recently clamped down on misleading advertisements.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

US 'frustrated' with India’s discomfort: Maritime exercise in South China Sea

By Vijay Prashad*  In early April 2024, the navies of four countries -- Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and the United States -- held a maritime exercise in the South China Sea. Australia’s Warramunga, Japan’s Akebono, the Philippines’ Antonio Luna, and the United States’ Mobile worked together in these waters to strengthen their joint abilities and -- as they said in a joint statement  -- to “uphold the right to freedom of navigation and overflight and respect for maritime rights under international law.” 

Dadi, poti discuss 'injustice' under 10 yr Modi rule: Video campaign goes viral

By Our Representative  Watan Ki Raah Mein, a civil society campaign of the Samvidhan Bachao Nagrik Abhiyan, has released a short video conversation on social media of an exchange of letters between a dadi and her poti discussing poverty, unemployment, corruption and women’s safety. The letters also raise the question of  suppression of our fundamental rights of speech, expression and justice. 

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

India 'not keen' on legally binding global treaty to reduce plastic production

By Rajiv Shah  Even as offering lip-service to the United Nations Environment Agency (UNEA) for the need to curb plastic production, the Government of India appears reluctant in reducing the production of plastic. A senior participant at the UNEP’s fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-4), which took place in Ottawa in April last week, told a plastics pollution seminar that India, along with China and Russia, did not want any legally binding agreement for curbing plastic pollution.

No compensation to family, reluctance to file FIR: Manual scavengers' death

By Arun Khote, Sanjeev Kumar*  Recently, there have been four instances of horrifying deaths of sewer/septic tank workers in Uttar Pradesh. On 2 May, 2024, Shobran Yadav, 56, and his son Sushil Yadav, 28, died from suffocation while cleaning a sewer line in Lucknow’s Wazirganj area. In another incident on 3 May 2024, two workers Nooni Mandal, 36 and Kokan Mandal aka Tapan Mandal, 40 were killed while cleaning the septic tank in a house in Noida, Sector 26. The two workers were residents of Malda district of West Bengal and lived in the slum area of Noida Sector 9.