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Guwahati, April 7, 2010: Social activists in the Northeast are being victimised by the state for opposing dams and industry. Many are being branded as Maoists and ULFA with one of them being a national award winning RTI activist.

Chairman of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti Akhil Gogoi has been branded a Maoist even though he is a national award winner for his RTI activism.

"Much before the National Tribal Forest Act, we have been fighting for forest dwellers of Northeast. They have to get their patta (papers) and forest rights. This is Assam's biggest movement now," he says about his cause.

However, a report mentions Gogoi's apparent meeting with Maoists in Golaghat district of Assam. Bhuban Pegu, a Missing leader and another social worker has also been named as a Maoist. Under pressure the Assam government has now admitted that the report was an error.

"They have been named as Maoists, also as Hujis and as ULFA, NDFB supporters. Why? Because we have been coordinating and working together against the construction of big dams in Arunachal Pradesh and we have been demanding local patta for ordinary farmers," says Ganasakti MLA Bhuban Pegu.

he Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti has been opposing big dams like the 2000 MW Lower Subansiri Dam project in the ecologically fragile Brahmaputra basin.

They've also been demanding land for marginal farmers and there have been vicious crackdown on their protests. It's a trend echoed in Manipur. NGO worker Jiten has been against the proposed Tipaimukh Dam.

He was arrested under the National Security Act in September 2009 and later released. His medical report mentions severe pain in private parts due to electric shock.

It is not just Manipur or Assam as activists have also been threatened in Arunachal Pradesh as well.

Dissent of any kind is not only being dubbed as anti-state and anti-development, it's an either with us or them approach seems to be the only rule.

The New Nation

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