(Assam Tribune) SANJoY RaY
AAMPAHAR (KARBI ANGLONG), Jan 16 – Just one major stroke of violence and things could never be the same again. Aampahar village in Central Assam’s Karbi Anglong district, which once used to be one of the prime sources of sugarcane production in the State with a cultivation area spreading over 700 bighas, now looks deserted with a sense of fear evident all over.
The curse of the 2007 carnage where cadres of a militant outfit had killed ten persons after the sugarcane farmers refused to pay an increased ‘annual tax’ to the outfit, continues to haunt the inhabitants.
Once inhabited by over 60 sugarcane farmers, Aampahar village now lives on with only 12 families cultivating on 100-odd bighas of land.
“Due to the Government’s failure to ensure proper security to the farmers engaged in the sector, people are moving out of the area. Though there has not been any incident of the intensity of the 2007 carnage, extortion demands continue and if the scenario does not change, the remainingfamilies would decide on other options outside the village,” rued a farmer of the locality while talking to this reporter.
The irony is that though the police department has set up a camp in the village after the 2007 incident, there has hardly been any respite for the villagers, which is why farmers started to move out of the village and decided to settle elsewhere, most of them even taking to new professions.
“At present, over 20 police personnel safeguard the interest of the 12 families but they are ill-equipped to serve the purpose. The camp set up for them is in bad shape and they have also not been provided with any kind of transportation to move fast in times of crisis,” a senior police official stated.
Most of the sugarcane farmers of the village are Hindi-speaking people, who had come from Bihar, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh etc., and settled in the district more than 50 years back.
“Earlier, there were 60 families in the village engaged in sugarcane cultivation. Now there are only 12 families left who are engaged in the sector. We are also trying to leave as there is no improvement in the situation,” said another family of thevillage.
The farmers take the land from the native Karbi people on long-term lease, which is extended after the lease period ends.
A police personnel of the locality, when asked, said, “It is very difficult to keep vigil as the population is scattered and most of the areas are inaccessible due to hilly terrain of thedistrict.