State minority students body calls the drive "inhuman and one-sided"
NEW DELHI — The Himanta Biswa Sarma government in Assam is continuing with its eviction campaign in different parts of the state.
Despite criticism from opposition and several social activists, the Chief Minister had, on December 21, told the state assembly that eviction drives to clear government and forest lands would continue as long as the BJP is in power.
As such, the drive to evict “encroachers” from Pava Reserve forest land in Lakhimpur district, spread over 250 hectares, continued for the second day on Wednesday. A total of 299 families, mostly Bengali-speaking Muslims, were forced to vacate their homes. They grieved that they could not collect all of their belongings, and the administration also destroyed their crops.
The exercise, which began on Tuesday, is being undertaken by the state to clear around 450 hectares in Pava Reserve Forest. On the first day, officials cleared 200 hectares in Mohghuli village, which was home to 201 families. “The eviction drive resumed today and it has been peaceful so far. We have not faced any resistance,” a senior district administration official was quoted by media reports as saying.
Around 70 bulldozers, excavators and tractors have been pressed into action in Adhasona village. About 600 police and CRPF personnel stood guard to oversee the eviction.
The residents and leaders claim that they were given land ownership documents earlier.
However, they claimed that the documents were rejected by the BJP-led dispensation in Assam, media reports said.
“The people of these areas have been living here for decades. Houses were built under the PMAY scheme, Anganwadi centres were built by the state, electricity connection and roads under the MGNREGA program were all made,” claimed Anwarul, Lakhimpur district secretary of All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU).
The AAMSU official termed the eviction drive as “inhuman and one-sided.” He questioned how the government schemes were being given to these residents if they were illegally living in the area.
A resident of the locality claimed that the state government had provided them with land ownership decades earlier.
“When we submitted the same to this government, they rejected it. Where do we go now?” he wondered.
The villagers also alleged that the demarcation pillar of the reserve forest has been changed several times, especially since 2017.
Photo: Around 70 bulldozers, excavators and tractors have been pressed into action in Adhasona village. About 600 police and CRPF personnel stood guard to oversee the eviction. — Twitter photo