Protests over Assam eviction drive by BJP govt

Some left-of-centre political parties in India's Assam state have taken up cudgels against the BJP-led government for its eviction drive against encroachers occupying forests and other government lands illegally.

Dilip Kumar Sharma, ,
Published : 3 Jan 2017, 04:50 AM
Updated : 3 Jan 2017, 04:50 AM

Few organizations leading the protest has termed the state government's eviction drive as 'communal and inhuman'.

Questions are often raised about the citizenship of the people encroaching government lands in Assam.

On several occasions, such people have been termed as doubtful citizen which normally means an ‘illegal Bangladeshi migrant’ here.

The Left-Democratic Manch of Assam organised on Monday a two hours mass sit-in protest against the eviction drive and the updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

It comprises of 11 political parties- CPI(M), CPI, CPI(ML), Janata Dal (Secular), Samajwadi Party, Nationalist Congress Party, Aam Admi Party, Asom Sangrami Mancha, Liberal Democratic Party, All India Forward Block and RCPI .

These parties demanded that the BJP-led government stop evicting landless people who have occupied government land over a long period of time , unless they are given land pattas (documents)  or allotted alternative land.

Before any landless Indian citizen is evicted from government land, they are to be provided with sufficient compensation , these parties demanded.

On the other hand, the All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU) has alleged that the eviction drive is an action taken against a 'particular community' by the BJP government.

AAMSU's president Azizur Rahman said that in several areas of the state, forest land have been encroached by people of different community but the BJP government is carrying out eviction drive in only those areas where people belonging to the religious minority (read Muslim)  community reside.

 If the government think that the people living there are illegal migrants or foreigners then it is the duty and responsibility of the government to identify, detect and deport them as per the provisions of the law, Rahman said.

The AAMSU leader also said that if these people are not genuine Indian citizens, then the government should declare who among them are Bangladeshis.

 If any of them are Bangladeshis, they should be jailed or deported from the country, he said.

But before carrying out such eviction drive against Indian citizens, the government should have provided compensation as well as arrange for rehabilitation in another location, said Rahman.

The AAMSU leader alleged that the Government is working with a motive to oust these people without providing them any shelter.

" All these people became landless after being affected by river erosion and settled in empty government lands. All these people have proper documents of their Indian citizenship."

The Assam government had, for the first time, carried out eviction drive against 'illegal settlers' last September  near the Kaziranga National Park which is considered home to two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceros.

After that, the local administration carried out eviction drives in Guwahati, Bardowa Satra , Mayong and Sipajhar and drove out encroachers of large tracts of government land.

According to a report by the AAMSU, the government eviction drive evicted 315 families from Kaziranga, 276 families from Sipajhar and 345 families from Mayong.

Of them, only seven families were non Muslims, Rahman said.

During last year's Assam assembly election , the BJP had promised to protect jaati, maati aaru bheti (nation, land and homestead) to the indigenous communities of Assam.

Former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Tarun Gogoi, while criticizing  the work of the state BJP government said that the government lack any  clear-cut policies regarding foreigners.

 If the Government seeks the welfare of the people of Assam, it will have to be absolutely straight forward regarding detection and deportation of illegal foreigners and other issues, he said.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher