Assam, Nov 9: The eviction drives in Assam that left two people dead and 18 injured over a month ago were followed on Monday by 562 families being evicted for alleged violence and encroaching upon a protected forest in the Hojai district.
According to Himanta Biswa Sarma, people from Barpeta, Nagaon, and Dhubri districts have encroached on almost half of the Lumding forest over the years and Nazrul was the one who encouraged them. Since 2012, these encroachment forces have cut nearly half the trees in the forest and are cultivating ginger, which has a turnover of 25 crores per year. However, in comparison to Garukhuti (in Darrang district) on Monday, the eviction proceeded smoothly.
The fresh eviction drive involved over 1,000 security personnel. Dismantling of houses and other structures in the area was done with elephants, bulldozers, and excavators. A total of 562 families have been evicted with minimal resistance since most of the families had already relocated themselves. The government plans to evict squatters in phases from over 1,410 hectares of the reserve forest.
In the eviction drive conducted in Darrang district on September 23 to evict families living on government land for decades, two people were killed, including a 12-year-old boy. A composite community farming scheme was planned as a result of the eviction drive. The first phase of the drive resulted in the removal of 788 families and 48 shops. A second phase resulted in the deaths of the two.
Having picked up his Aadhaar card from the local post office, 12-year-old Sheikh Farid was heading home while a violent exchange of words interrupted his journey home. In September, government photographer Bijay Shankar Baniya was seen repeatedly kicking and jumping on the apparently lifeless body of another person, Mainul Haque, causing outrage.
An inquiry into the violent eviction drive has been ordered by the government. In response to Debabrata Sakia’s motion, the high court ruled that excessive force had been used. Evicted families were deemed encroachers by the government.