Villagers face-off with SP-led forces, horti damage assessment halted

By Our Reporter

ITANAGAR, Aug 30: Hundreds of villagers, including womenfolk, had a face-off at the border of their Neelam village in Lower Subansiri district on Friday against two companies of security personnel led by Lower Subansiri SP.

The SP and the overwhelming numbers of security personnel along with the EAC, district horticulture officer, had come “unannounced” to the village to assess alleged damages to the horticulture crops in an area whose ownership is currently being contested at the court of law.

The land in question covers an area measuring 211.31 hectares and is located in New Pania under Pistana circle of Lower Subansiri district. Its ownership is currently being contested by the villagers of Neelam village and by Likha Yana, mother of former MLA Likha Saaya, at Itanagar Permanent bench of Gauhati High Court, Naharlagun.

The villagers headed by the Neelam Area Development Committee chairman Neelam Tani and Neelam Natural Resources Committee president Neelam Sanjay argued that since the ownership of the area is being contested by two parties in the HC, the administration should have also informed them in advance about the assessment exercise.

The duo also argued that since both the parties are stakeholders in the matter, representatives from both sides should be present during the assessment if it is to be conducted.

Later, the visiting officials had to turn back without undertaking proposed assessment activity following their failure to furnish a copy of the official order, supposedly issued by the Lower Subansiri DC, based on which the assessment was to be carried out.

Speaking to the media persons, Sanjay said that since the matter is civil in nature, the involvement of law enforcing authority was unwarranted, especially the requisition of two companies of security personnel.

On the ownership of the land in question, he informed that the DC in its order on May 16 last had cancelled with immediate effect the land possession certificate (LPC) issued against the land in favour of Yana.

SP Dr Hemant Tiwari informed that they were there to only assess the alleged damages to e horticulture crops and not for title suit in any way. He added they had to bring the forces because someone on the previous occasion had thwarted the same activity by “intimidating the officials.”

Regarding their failure to furnish the official order for the assessment, he reiterated that they were there to only assess the alleged damages and that it wouldn’t have had any impact on the claim of ownership by either party.

He added that had the villagers after cancellation order of the LPC secured an order from the CJM to vacate the land, the authorities concerned would have removed the horticulture crops themselves, but the crops were damaged by unidentified persons which was illegal, and that they were there to assess that damage only.

Meanwhile, the visiting officials and the villagers headed by the above two leaders resolved to have a meeting involving all stakeholders before undertaking any further action on the matter.

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