By- Priyankan Goswami
At the call of Akhil Gogoi led Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) and Guwahati Mati Pattan Samiti, a violent day passed in Guwahati yesterday, June 22, 2011. Three persons including a child were killed and over 50 people including several policemen were injured when police opened fire to quell a violent protest demonstration against the Government for the recent eviction drive of illegal settlers in and around Guwahati.
As per sources, KMSS had sought permission for a peaceful demonstration and the big mistake that Government officials did was to believe KMSS at its face value.
Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti – no more democratic
When Akhil Gogoi had made his entry into the big scene of protests in Assam, there were whispers that his rise is the rise of Maoists in the state. Such claims still lack evidence, but one thing is for sure, – Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) has not remained a truly democratic and peaceful organization. Nor has Akhil Gogoi, called as Anna Hazare of Assam (!) by his blindest followers, remained a democratic leader. Instead of putting in a democratic protest, he led a violent rampage and mayhem that took away lives of innocent. It is easy for him as well as the CPI to blame it all on the police and government for firing and inducing a lathi-charge, but what else would one expect from policemen in such a situation. It was chaos all-around, civilians nothing to do with the issue were being attacked, buses burnt. Assam was reaching headlines of national media, once again for an incident that would put the state to shame.
Why attack and disrupt life and property of innocent citizens
- In the violent protests led by Akhil Gogoi, the protesters set fire and damaged number of vehicles who were commuting. This even included a school bus that was set on fire. Was it the fault of the school kids or the driver that led to the protests? Why a civilized society does have to witness such barbaric acts that put the entire society to shame in front of the world? If some school children were killed because of the school bus set on fire, KMSS would have been no different than those guilty of the Dhemaji Blasts killing children. At least in Dhemaji, the bomb was not planned to kill children consciously. Here it was a conscious attempt on the school bus!
- The protestors blocked the GS road of several hours. The already troubled traffic of Guwahati had to come to a standstill with vehicles standing at the same spot for as long as 8 hours. Did the KMSS protestors and Akhil Gogoi realize that by doing so, they are putting thousands of innocents to trouble and risk? There were surely patients who needed urgent medical help who could not reach aid because of this mayhem. There were infants along with mothers who had to remain hungry in the heat. There were school children stuck in the traffic who could not return home on time, creating tearful anxiety and troubled minds to their mothers and family.
Eviction Drive – We need to move towards future, not back to the past
Every eviction drive conducted on the hills has been prompting stiff resistance from the settlers, often resulting in ugly law-and-order situations. The failure of the authorities to prevent encroachment or to evict them immediately after they settle is one issue that is worth mentioning too. The political parties were invariably found to be siding with even the illegal settlers as they form a big vote bank for them.
It is to be mentioned that as per order of the Supreme Court, no government can give settlement in the hills which are classified as reserved forest. However the government also has a policy to allow landless people living continuously for 15 years on hills, not classified as reserved forest, to continue living. But in areas around Guwahati where the current eviction is on, some people have even constructed concrete buildings on the encroached land and such people cannot be classified as landless people. Moreover, the government can provide settlement of only one and half Katha of land but there are people who are found to have encroached bighas of land on the hills.
If the hills and wetlands around Guwahati are not evicted from illegal settlers, problems such as artificial flash floods and landslides killing people during monsoons would continue to haunt the citizens of Guwahati. The environmental and Eco-system has to be maintained if Guwahati has to be developed into a green, clean and developed city with its issues of drainage and floods solved. For this, eviction of illegal occupants is a necessity and tough stand of the Government is actually needed at time. Of course this has to happen through a humane methodology and the poor and the landless must be compensated and given alternate arrangements.
Akhil Gogoi needs to change style of leadership
When Akhil Gogoi had recently indulged in the media duel with Dr. Hiren Gohain, one of the most respected and noted intellectual of the state, he had forgotten that Dr. Gohain was someone whom he had asked help for the protests against the mega dams. The issue was that Dr. Hiren Gohain criticized Akhil Gogoi style of leadership. Akhil Gogoi, unable to take it positively and use it as a platform to improve his own traits chose only to fight back. Thousands of his blind followers, now in plenty, across the state supported him though.
However what happened yesterday at Guwahati proved exactly what Dr. Hiren Gohain had feared. Akhil Gogoi is now seen going too far in his attention seeking attitude. In his quest for becoming the most feared and followed leader, he has now started to indulge in anti-people activities and create unnecessary havoc, risking lives and property of the innocent. Akhil Gogoi and KMSS have to realize that they cannot afford to pull back Guwahati or Assam to the past all the time by stopping developmental steps every time.
What Akhil Gogoi is currently exhibiting is completely autocratic and Charismatic Leadership, with little consideration to the overall people in general. A charismatic leader tends to believe more in himself than in the organization or the situational considerations. This creates a risk that the leader or even the entire organization, might collapse. The same is seen with Akhil Gogoi, who is moving forward with lesser public consideration and advice day by day. If he does not change his style to Transformational Leadership, where he can inspire a shared vision of the future to the people, Akhil Gogoi will soon be a failed name.