Thousands of protestors from Mising tribe are camping for rehabilitation since December 21 Credit: Rishu Kalantri

Tinsukia: Days after Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal constituted a committee to look into the rehabilitation of the Mising community living inside the Dibru Saikhowa National Park, a pregnant woman protester died on Friday.

The deceased woman has been identified as 24-year-old Kusmita Morang. She was shifted to the Assam Medical College and Hospital (AMCH) after she fell ill in the makeshift camp at the ongoing protest site close to deputy commissioner office in Tinsukia.

Kusmita Morang at hospital before her death

More than 2,000 protestors from 1,480 families, residing in two forest villages – Laika and Dodhia, inside the Dibru Saikhowa National Park, are protesting at Lezaihola Borguri by setting up a makeshift camp since December 21, demanding rehabilitation.

Laika and Dodhia are located inside the park, even though the forest was accorded national park status in 1999. This is because the Assam Forest Department did not acknowledge the villages’ existence, despite knowing that India’s Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 expressly prohibits any human settlement within a national park, leaving a trail of misery and protests for over two decades.

“The death is because of the medical negligence on the part of the government and local administration,” said Ajay Doley, assistant secretary, All Mising Students’ Union.

Doley added that they would demand compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the victim’s family. “Thousands of protestors, including women, are protesting for several days. Disease and illness have already invaded our camp with several protestors suffering from cold, fever and even few reporting nose-bleeding. The government has left us to die,” he added.

“We are not going anywhere until and unless the government takes a decisive call and rehabilitates us,” Doley said, adding, “We have already registered our objection to government proposals to rehabilitate Laika residents in the 72 hectares land at Namphai reserve forest, 166 hectares land in Paharpur reserve forest under Digboi forest division, and Dodhia villagers in a Paba reserve forest in North Lakhimpur.”

“The government should rehabilitate us on 320 and 470 hectares of land inside Mamoroni and Owguri reserve forest, already declared as degraded reserve forests by the then division forest officer, under Digboi forest division,” he added.

Earlier, a 50-year-old woman protestor Renato Pegu died soon after she was shifted to her village when she fell ill at the protest campsite.



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