STOP THE FORCEFUL LAND GRAB OF ADIVASI AND KARBI FARMERS FOR SOLAR POWER PLANT

CONDEMN AZURE POWER’S ENTRY INTO MIKIR BAMUNI GRANT WITH HEAVY DEPLOYMENT OF CRPF PERSONNEL IN THE MIDST OF INDIA’S WORST PHASE OF THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

WE DEMAND AN IMMEDIATE WITHDRAWAL OF STATE SECURITY PERSONNEL FROM THE VILLAGE

STOP THE FORCEFUL LAND GRAB OF ADIVASI AND KARBI FARMERS

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 1971These 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 8 October 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 29 December, 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 10 May 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

Signed, 

  1. Virginius Xaxa, Academic, Formerly with Delhi University
  2. Aditya Nigam, Academic, CSDS, Delhi
  3. Holiram Terang, Political activist, Assam
  4. Amit Bhaduri, Former Professor Emeritus, JNU, Delhi
  5. Madhu Bhaduri
  6. Ashok Choudhary, All India Union of Forest Working People
  7. Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan and NAPM
  8. Soumya Dutta, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha, Delhi
  9. Prafulla Samantara, Lokshakti Abhiyan, Odisha
  10. K.P. Fabian, Former Ambassador
  11. Ashish Kothari, Environmental researcher, Pune
  12. Apurba Kumar Baruah, Retd. Professor, Northeast Hill University, Shillong
  13. Santanu Borthakur, Advocate, Gauhati High Court
  14. Pranab Doley, Jeepal Krishak Shramik Sangha, Assam
  15. Manas Das, Assam Majoori Shramik Union (NTUI)
  16. Gautam Mody, New Trade Union Initiative
  17. Sanjay Barbora, Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati
  18. Ramanand Wangkheirakpam, Coordinator, Indigenous Perspectives, Manipur
  19. Bonojit Hussain, Farmer and researcher, Assam
  20. Tarun Bhartiya, Image maker, Raiot Collective
  21. Soneswar Narah, Jeepal Krishak Shramik Sangha and IPTA, Assam
  22. Amrapali Basumatary, Assistant professor, Kirorimal College, University of Delhi
  23. Vasundhara Jairath, Assistant Professor, IIT Guwahati, Assam
  24. Raju Deori, Advocate and tribal social activist, Assam
  25. Meera Sanghamitra, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)
  26. Balindra Saikia, Krishok Mahasabha, Assam
  27. Praveen Jha, Professor, JNU, Delhi
  28. Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Party (India)
  29. Dolly Kikon, Anthropologist, University of Melbourne, Australia
  30. Paresh Malakar, Intellectual and publisher, Guwahati
  31. Sarat Phukan, Professor, Gauhati University
  32. Vani Subramanian, Independent filmmaker
  33. Hiren Gandhi, Darshan, Gujarat
  34. Saroop Dhruv, Darshan, Gujarat
  35. Rashmi Rekha Borah, Writer, Assam
  36. Nikhileswar Baruah, Artist, Assam
  37. Nakul Singh Sawhney, Filmmaker, Delhi
  38. Neha Dixit, Journalist, Delhi
  39. Amit Baishya, Faculty, University of Oklahoma
  40. Amit Kumar, Student, Faculty of Law, Delhi University
  41. Sriparna Bandopadhyay, Assistant Professor, IIT Guwahati
  42. Biswajit K Bora, Academic, Delhi University
  43. Jagmohan Singh, All India Forum for Right to Education
  44. Soibam Haripriya, Postdoctoral fellow, Dept. of Conflict and Development Studies, Ghent University, Belgium
  45. Vimal Bhai, National Alliance of People’s Movements
  46. Dr. Neeti Bhai, NAPM Varanasi
  47. Pamela Philipose, Journalist
  48. Tanvi GS, Student
  49. Firoz, Teacher
  50. Sanjay Kak, Filmmaker
  51. Samar Bagchi, NAPM West Bengal
  52. Usharani Acharya, Retd. Professor, Berhmpur University
  53. Jennifer, Dalit Camera
  54. Ashwin Lobo, Environment Support Group, Bangalore
  55. Eric Pinto, NAPM Goa
  56. Salil Joshi, NAPM
  57. Suhas Kolhekar, Social activist, NAPM
  58. Aysha, Right to Food Campaign
  59. Arundhati Dhuru, NAPM
  60. KJ Joy, Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India
  61. Madhuri, Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan
  62. Nisha Biswas, Activist
  63. Uttam, Visual artist
  64. Debal Deb, Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies
  65. Mita Deutta, Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies
  66. Shefali Saini, TISS Mumbai
  67. Shyam Narayan Bharti, TISS
  68. Noihrit Gogoi, Student, Ramjas College, Delhi University
  69. Dayasagar Kalita, Jatiya Itihas, Assam
  70. Shilpi Shikha, Student
  71. Trishita Shandilya, Research scholar
  72. Shruti, Student, Cotton University, Assam
  73. Debajit Rajbangshi, Citizen
  74. Nilanju, Independent activist
  75. Kennet Moses Arul, Lawyer
  76. Shrestha Chowdhury, Environment Support Group, Bangalore
  77. Indukamal Bhuyan, Student, Dept. of Political Science, Dibrugarh University, Dibrugarh
  78. Raj Shekhar Nath, Intern, Journalist, TheSocialTalk
  79. Shankar SR, Research scholar and journalist
  80. Debarti, NAPM
  81. Bidisha Barman, Activist, Assam
  82. Tani Alex, Delhi
  83. Kamal Nayan Misra, Prerona Puthibhoral (Library), Nalbari, Assam
  84. Aruna Rodrigues, Founder, Sunray Harvesters
  85. Kavita Kowshik, Swaraj India
  86. Mehzebin Rahman, YUVA, Assam
  87. Mijanur Rahman SK, Centre for Relief and Rehabilitation
  88. Aniruddha Bora, Public Health Professional
  89. Sima Saikia, Social worker
  90. Dishanka Gogoi, Graduate student, Anthropology, University of California, Merced, USA
  91. Julina Kashyap, Research scholar
  92. Amod Shah, PhD researcher
  93. Parmod, Concerned individual
  94. Priyadarshi, Citizen of Union of India
  95. Ramnarayan, Nature Educator, Uttarakhand
  96. Sana Haque, Environment Support Group, Bangalore
  97. Pracarsh Rastogi, Ashoka University, Delhi
  98. Navrose, Ally
  99. Napoleon S Mawphniang, Entrepreneur
  100. Persis Ginwalla, Ahmedabad
  101. Tanvi Krishnakumar, Student, Ashoka University
  102. Sudha N, Researcher-activist
  103. SP Yadav, Social worker
  104. Abha, Student
  105. Himansu Sekhar Fatesingh, Adani DAV Public School
  106. Geeta K
  107. Shewli Kumar, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
  108. Akriti Singh
  109. Vikash Shivram
  110. Kailash Anerao, Save Environment Save Earth
  111. Tara Murali
  112. Girija Godbole, IIT Bombay, Mumbai
  113. Pushkar Kulkarni, Citizen
  114. Tara Rai, Democracy Collective
  115. Nayanjyoti, Delhi University
  116. Akash Basumatari, Filmmaker
  117. Rakesh Agarwal, Independent writer and researcher
  118. Anjali Dalmia, Student, Activist, Yugma Network and NAPM
  119. Geeta Sahu, Housewife, Nature lover
  120. Sharanya, Rangmatipadar Commune, Koraput, Odisha
  121. Rajaraman Sundaresan, Rangmatipadar Adivasi Commune, Koraput, Odisha
  122. Hans Raj Jakhu, Dalit NRI
  123. AK Dave, Activist
  124. Chitra, Mumbai
  125. Abhijit Chakraborty, All India Youth Federation
  126. Sandhya Lakshmi Chella, Citizen
  127. Samira Nadkarni
  128. Mrinal Borah, Students Federation of India
  129. Nuchiso, Social workers
  130. Reema Shah
  131. Deepika Joshi, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Chhattisgarh
  132. Abha, One Billion Rising
  133. Bitupan Gogoi, All India Students’ Federation
  134. Saumya, Aatmanirbhar berozgaar
  135. Vignesh Nayak
  136. Kul Bhushan Upmanyu, Himalaya Bachao Samiti, Kamla Chamba
  137. Pavithra Raghavan
  138. Sunil Hembram
  139. Bittu KR, Karnataka Janashakti
  140. Ashfaque EJ, Independent journalist
  141. Sushma, Grassroutes Journeys
  142. Dr. Sanjay Mangala Gopal, National Convenor, National Alliance of People’s Movements
  143. Putul Sathe, SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai
  144. Smruthi Ananth, Azim Premji University, Bangalore
  145. Puloma Pal, Film Editor
  146. Nidhi
  147. Prabir Banerjee, PondyCAN
  148. Preeti Mehra, Independent journalist
  149. Kalyani Menon Sen, Independent researcher
  150. Bebaak Collective
  151. Roshmi Goswami, South Asians For Human Rights
  152. Sushil Khanna, Professor (Retd), Indian Institute of Management Calcutta
  153. Sharmila, IIT Bombay
  154. Angshuman Sarma, Research scholar, JNU, Delhi
  155. Bondita Acharya, Human rights activist, Assam

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