Nearly 5,000 people including children and elderly persons have been forced to live under the open sky in Assam’s Darrang district since they were evicted from government land by the local administration on Monday.
Nearly 800 “immigrant” Muslim families were evicted from Dholpur (Number 1, 2 and 3) under Sipajhar revenue circle, about 60 kilometres from here on Monday as part of the BJP-led Assam government’s drive to clear “illegal encroachers” from government land.
According to the government, they had illegally occupied the land and were served notices to vacate it.
Hundreds of policemen armed with excavators and riot control vehicles reached the spot on Monday following which most residents vacated their houses fearing demolition. BJP’s Mangaldoi MP and two other MLAs — Mrinal Hazarika and Padma Hazarika — supervised the eviction drive.
“Most of them had occupied the government land as they are landless and are unable to buy thier own land. They were living there for several decades. After the eviction, they have no option but to live under the open sky. Many children and aged persons have fallen ill due to the rain and cold weather since Monday night. Many have run short of food too. The situation on the ground is heart-wrenching. How can a democratically elected government be so inhuman and insensitive to the plight of such poor and landless people?” Ainuddin Ahmed, advisor of All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU) told DH on Tuesday.
Two mosques and a Madrassa were also demolished during the drive, Ahmed said.
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, while complementing Assam police and Darrang district administration tweeted, “I am happy and complement the district administration and Assam police for having cleared about 4,500 bigha land by evicting 800 households and demolishing two illegal religious institutions.” Sarma also uploaded photographs of the eviction drive including one showing the demolition of a mosque.
Ahmed said the evicted persons are Indian citizens and are not “illegal migrants” from Bangladesh as is being claimed by the MLAs and leaders of the ruling BJP. “Most of them have names in the NRC,” he said.
Ahmed said Darrang district administration asked them to shift their houses to another government-owned land but without any allotment. “Can the government give an assurance that they would not be evicted similarly from the new plot?” the AAMSU leader questioned.
BJP MLA Mrinal Hazarika said the land being cleared from the “illegal settlers” would be utilised for an agriculture and horticulture project and engage the local youths belonging to “indigenous communities.” “Already 500 youths have been engaged and we plan to offer employment to at least 5,000 youths,” he said. “Congress government in the past used to settle the immigrant Muslims in any vacant land to build vote bank. That must stop,” Hazarika said.
Ahmed questioned how the government could evict some citizens in order to offer employment to another section of citizens. “This is nothing but part of hate Muslims policy of the BJP and communal politics against the religious minorities,” he said. “I just hope that high court will take cognizance of such unconstitutional drive by the government and register a case to stop such acts,” Ahmed said.
A similar eviction drive was carried out in Biswanath, Nagaon and Morigaon districts since the BJP-led government retained power in Assam for the second consecutive term in May this year.
This story first appeared on deccanherald.com