Sunday, January 29, 2023

400 bighas cleared in second eviction drive in Assam; Cong MLA detained

In the second eviction drive within a week, the Assam government on Monday carried out an eviction drive to clear 400 bighas (over 132 acres) of land in Barpeta district, while local Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed was detained for protesting at the site.
The Barpeta district administration, backed by a strong contingent of security personnel, evicted 45 families in Satrakanara under Baghbar Assembly constituency from government land, Baghbar Circle Officer Sonbar Chutia said. “The exercise was carried out peacefully and no untoward incident has been reported. We cleared around 400 bighas of land from the encroachers,” he said.
Claiming that a number of families had settled there following flood and erosion, the Congress MLA demanded that the evicted people be rehabilitated.
The first eviction drive was carried out at Batadrava in Nagoan district on December 19. The two-day exercise had evicted more than 5,000 alleged encroachers.
Bulldozers were used to demolish the houses of the alleged encroachers in Satrakanara on Monday. The heavy machinery was also seen uprooting several trees in the area.
While the eviction exercise was going on, Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed protested at the site along with a group of locals.
Holding placards, he sat on the ground in front of a bulldozer to stop the eviction. The police and civil administration requested him to move from the place, but he did not pay heed to it.
The legislator was detained for obstructing public servants from discharging their duties, a police officer said.
“He was later released and no case was registered against the MLA,” the officer said.
Condemning the eviction, Ahmed said in a Facebook post that the exercise in his constituency is “illegal, inhuman and against the constitutional provisions”.
He claimed that the plot was allotted to a now-defunct organisation ‘Boro Krishak Samitee’ in 1992, but it never took possession of the land and never utilised it for the purpose for which it was allotted.
“Consequently, the land got reverted to the revenue department,” Ahmed said.
About 65 revenue villages of Baghbar have been eroded after Independence and several thousands of families were rendered homeless and landless, he added.
“It was the constitutional duty of successive governments to rehabilitate these erosion-affected families, but they didn’t. As a result, the landless & homeless families are taking shelter wherever they could,” Ahmed said.
He claimed that the evicted families had settled in the area after losing their land in flood and erosion.
“My demand was a written assurance from the administration to rehabilitate the landless and homeless families within a period of one month, but alas, the administration paid no heed to my demand and detained me in violation of my rights of peaceful protest. Enough of Hitlerism!” said the opposition MLA.
The evicted families, mostly agrarian communities, said that they were farming mustard, potato, corn and other vegetables in the area.
“The administration gave us 15 days to harvest our crops, but we need two months for it,” an affected farmer said without disclosing his name.
Setting aside opposition criticism for the eviction drive, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on December 21 had told the Assembly that the exercise to clear government and forest land in Assam will continue as long as the BJP runs the state.

SourcePTI
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