Political Leaders, Activists Term Eviction Drive in Assam ‘Communal, Anti-Constitutional’

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‘Chief Minister Himanata Biswa Sarma is adopting such policies only to appease the people in Nagpur where Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is based and show himself as a Hindutva poster boy.’

Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – Political leaders and activists on Monday slammed Assam Chief Minister Himanata Biswa Sarma for carrying out “communal” and “anti-constitutional” evictions without following any rehabilitation process as the state government continued to face backlash for the Lakhimpur demolition drive affecting around 300 mostly Muslim families.

“The evictions going on in Barpeta, Lakhimpur and elsewhere are against the provision of the constitution. Shelter over head is a fundamental right,” Sherman Ali Ahmed, MLA from Baghabar in Assam, told Clarion India.

Ahmed was recently detained for protesting against evictions in Barpeta district.

In recent months, the government has carried out evictions in Barpeta and Nagaon affecting hundreds of families. Last week, evictions were carried out in Lakhimpur district. The government claimed that it was removing encroachments from the government and forest lands. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state was accused of targeting Muslims in the name of removing encroachments.

Ahmed pointed out that most of the victims are landless people from the Muslim community. They were forced to take shelter at the government land when their homes were washed away in the floods which often hit the state.

“In Assam, after independence around 4.27 lakh hectares of land has been washed away by the river affecting over 2,500 villages. In the process, lakhs of people were rendered homeless. The primary duty of the government is to provide shelter to them. But all the successive governments have failed in this regard. As a result, the homeless people started living here and there sometimes also on government land. Before carrying out any evictions, the government should have looked into this fact and taken rehabilitation measures,” he said.

Ahmed alleged that the government is violating human rights and constitutional provisions. Almost all those affected by the eviction drive belong to minorities, he said.

The government has often been levelled with charges of targeting minorities. Even the victims pointed to this fact. In Lakhimpur, the victims said 500 Hindu families living on the same land were not affected by evictions.

“The government must evict them too if it is really concerned about encroachment,” said a victim.

Azizur Rahman, a political activist from Lakhimpur, told Clarion India that the chief minister is playing communal politics through these evictions.

“We have been protesting against the government saying that if it was carrying out evictions, do them against all communities,” said Rahman, president of the All Assam Minority Students Union.

“Muslim leaders, parties and organizations have been protesting against the eviction drive. But the government is not paying any heed as it is following the policies adopted by (Adolf)Hitler,” he said.

Rahman said that Sarma is adopting such policies only to appease the people in Nagpur where Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is based and to show himself as a Hindutva poster boy.

“They have a policy not to allow Muslims to live in peace. Himanata Biswa Sarma is at the forefront of implementation of this policy,” he said.

Last month, speaking in the state Assembly, Chief Minister Sarma said his government would continue the eviction process and “there is no point talking about it.”

“Eviction is a continuous process and it won’t stop. We will clear forest and government land (across the state) as well as in Batadrava,” he said.

Ahmed also feels that the government is carrying out the evictions with malafide intent to polarise society and voters. Condemning the government in the strongest terms, he said: “I appeal to the government to follow the Raj dharma.”  

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