Shillong, Nov 22: The KAM Meghalaya and Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR) has strongly condemned the actions of Assam Police on the Khasi-Pnar and other residents of border areas of Jaintia Hills that has led to loss of lives.
“People were first arrested for exercising their customary claims on the Forest produce and then when the villagers went to the Assam authorities to demand their release, they were fired upon,” the KAM and TUR said.
According to the KAM and TUR the residents of these areas were exercising their traditional customary rights over the forest produce that predate the modern notion of the borders.
They stated that land and forest belong to the people, not to the state.
They also said that Assam Police for a long time has been harassing the border residents on a border whose legality hasn’t been settled.
“Even if these borders are legal entities, the lives and traditions of the tribal communities cannot be erased,” they stated.
According to them moreover, even in constitutional terms Forest Rights Act provides legal protection to the communities who have not only grown these forests but have looked after it for aeons.
Meanwhile, KAM Meghalaya and TUR has demanded immediate action to be initiated against the perpetrators of this atrocity, compensation and medical support to the victims of these atrocities, people’s rights to the forest produce and customary rights of the people to the land to be legally enshrined.
The KAM and TUR also demanded that Assam-Meghalaya border question to be immediately resolved keeping in mind the customary land rights, history and multi ethnic reality of the border areas.