Tension heightened at Block No.3, Balijan area along the Dimapur-Khatkhati border Sunday morning when Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) carried out its third phase of eviction drive through demolition of houses by over ten excavators (JCBs) that left several hundred people shelter-less.
The eviction was carried out by KAAC’s Land Revenue department with assistance from Assam Police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
Many of those affected who talked to Nagaland Post at the site, said they were taken by complete surprise by the eviction drive since they firmly believed that the KAAC will respect the order issued by the Gauhati High Court to stay on eviction till February 2,2022.
Some residents claimed that they had met KAAC members on January 29, and that the officials assured the residents that they would not be evicted as their petition was pending at Gauhati High Court.
They said the eviction began with swift imposition of Section 144 CrPC early Sunday morning. The affected said that eviction drive was also carried out against houses whose owners had petitioned the court and pasted papers written “H/Court” at their gates and entrances.
Soon as the demolition began, some resident pelted stones and police responded with blank firing and tear gas shells. According to reports, several people including an Assam police personnel sustained minor injuries.
Several of those affected said they possess genuine pattas issued by the KAAC and therefore, wanted a clarification on why were they houses demolished, contrary to assurances?
The demolition drive targeted even a community constructed kutcha bridge connecting Balijan(Assam) with Dimapur(Nagaland ) used by hundreds of daily wage earners. This led to the situation turning serious and it was only after EAC (Sadar) from Dimapur, Nukshi told the crowd that the bridge was being spared after the intervention of the Dimapur district administration.
The SDO also said that Assam Police had resorted to firing tear gas shells but stopped after learning that officials and police from Dimapur were present to monitor the situation.
Borlengri Area Villagers’ Union (BAVU) chairman Meren Ao, who was also present along with his colleagues at the time of the blank firing clarified that no Naga family had encroached upon even a small piece of land belonging to Assam. He claimed that Naga residents along the Assam-Nagaland border were law-abiding citizens living under Karbi Anglong. He asked whether the rights of “indigenous” Nagas and Karbis were different in the Constitution of India?
He said the eviction drive came despite court restraint and clearly a matter of victimising legitimate land owners.
When approached KAAC members at the site refused to answer question on why eviction was being carried out despite high court restraint order.
Meanwhile, Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) and Dimapur Naga Students’ Union (DNSU) will hold a meeting with Karbi Students’ Association (KSA) on Monday.
This was confirmed by DNSU president Moayanger, who also said they were informed that the Sunday’s eviction drive would be the last one.
Several organisations, including NSF and BAVU, had appealed to KAAC to exempt Nagas, who were law-abiding citizens of the area, from being evicted.
Even chief minister Neiphiu Rio had written to his Assam counterpart Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, seeking his intervention to protect the lives and properties of Naga residing in those areas, in keeping with social justice and sprit of good neighbourly relations between the two States.
It may be recalled that the KAAC Land Revenue department had begun the phase-wise eviction drive in December last year, claiming that a total of 210 bighas of government land had been occupied by doubtful individuals in the area. However, due to an injunction issued by the high court, the drive on December 20 last year was only able to clear 100 bigha land.