People protest against the eviction at Khanapara on Monday and (inset) a family gathers its belongings and prepares to leave. Picture by Eastern Projections
Guwahati, Aug. 25: An eviction drive on the Assam-Meghalaya border this morning triggered a flare-up and blame game when lathicharge by Meghalaya police on suspected encroachers on a disputed land at Khanapara left six persons injured.
The drive took place near the official residence of Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi.
A police officer said trouble broke out when a team of Meghalaya police accompanied by some residents of the neighbouring state embarked on the eviction drive around 10.30am. The police team allegedly used four bulldozers to carry out the eviction drive.
The affected families resisted the drive claiming that the drive was illegal as it was carried out on land that belongs to Assam.
When a group of women confronted the team and asked them to stop the eviction drive, Meghalaya police started a lathicharge as a result of which at least six persons were injured, alleged N. Das, a resident of the area.
The injured have been identified as Dilip Boro, 40, Amrita Chetri, 22, Ram Bahadur Chetri, 47, Manju Barman Thakuria, 38, Sakina Begum, 22, and Nasima Begum, 27.
The lathicharge made the residents furious and they then attacked the eviction team. Finally, a team of Assam police reached the spot after half an hour and restored normality, Binoy Kalita, one of the protesters said.
Police said on the basis of a complaint lodged by one B.M. Terang at Basistha police station, accusing Meghalaya police of carrying out the drive on Assams territory, a case was registered and Nathan Thangkiew and T. Thangkiew, two members of the eviction squad, were arrested. They were later released on bail.
Claims and counter-claims followed the incident as the boundary along that stretch is not clearly demarcated.
According to the Assam government, the particular area falls under ward number 56 of Guwahati Municipal area and the Meghalaya claiming it to be a part of Ri Bhoi district.
According to Kalita, around 100 families have been staying in the area for the past 30 to 40 years and their names figure in the voters list of Assam. Alleging highhandedness by Meghalaya police, he said they started the eviction drive without notice.
They reached the spot this morning and asked the residents to vacate the place within five minutes, he claimed.
Thangkiew, who is a resident of the neighbouring state, forged the land documents showing land on the Assam side of the border as his private land and influenced the police and civil administration of Ri Bhoi district of Meghalaya to carry the eviction drive, one of the protesters alleged.