Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti: Peasant rights activists are being harassed and intimidated

They work to protect land and forest rights, expose corruption, and oppose the construction of big dams that could ruin the lives of peasant farmers.

Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) is a peasant rights organisation comprising mainly farmers from the northeastern Indian state of Assam. KMSS campaigns to protect the lives and livelihoods of peasants, including those from indigenous Adivasi communities, by securing land and forest rights, exposing corruption and opposing the construction of big dams that could forcibly displace peasants and leave them with no means of supporting themselves.

From the late 90s, Assam witnessed a series of forced evictions of peasants. The KMSS was formed in 2005 against the backdrop of a movement that campaigned for land rights for forest dwellers in the Doiang-Tengani area of Golaghat district, Assam. It gained popular support through its movement against forced land dispossession. The organization has also organized massive demonstrations against the construction of some large dams, which the KMSS says are being built without proper assessments of their impact on the environment and local residents.

Over the years, KMSS activists have faced harassment and intimidation by the local police. Several criminal cases have been registered against its leaders and activists after they organised and participated in mass protests. Around 100 criminal cases have been registered against Akhil Gogoi, the founder of the KMSS.

In September 2017, the Assam government used the draconian National Security Act (NSA) 1980 to hold Akhil Gogoi in administrative detention. The NSA permits administrative detention for up to 12 months on loosely defined grounds of national security and maintenance of public order. In December 2017, an order by the Gauhati High Court ruled that the detention violated Akhil Gogoi’s constitutional rights, and ordered his release. However KMSS activists continue to face threats and harassment.

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