Assam eviction drive frees 400 bighas
The Barpeta district administration in Assam freed about 400 bighas of government land “without any resistance” from local residents during a day-long eviction drive on Monday, the second such drive carried out since December 19.
The only resistance came from suspended Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed, who protested at the site of the eviction under the Baghbar Assembly constituency, about 3km from Baghbar Satra Kanara.
An official said 45 families were evicted on Monday from the encroached land allotted to a cooperative society in the 1970s.
“The eviction drive was carried out by following due processes of law. Around 200 security personnel were deployed but there was no resistance except a brief protest by the local MLA,” the official said.
Another official said several individual and public eviction notices were served on the encroachers.
“One of the encroachers possessed about 100 bighas and used to rent it out to people,” the official said.
Three-time MLA Ahmed told The Telegraph that he was not against eviction but only wanted rehabilitation of the landless. According to him, 25-30 families were landless.
“I protested because I wanted a written assurance from the administration to rehabilitate those without land within a month. I was detained for around four hours,” Ahmed said. He said the government was yet to rehabilitate eight landless families who got evicted from Mandia last year.
“The administration had promised their rehabilitation but it is yet to happen.” Ahmed also said that the government had planned a dairy farm at the site of the eviction “but it is not feasible because the area remains 15 feet under water during the rainy season”.
“Now I have heard they will create a water body under Mission Amrit Sarovar but that too will not be feasible,” he said.
The eviction drive came four days after a Guwahati-based advocate Zunaid Khalid petitioned the Gauhati High Court Chief Justice R.M. Chhaya to register “a suo motu PIL” over an eviction drive in Nagaon district last week to free 1,100 bighas of government land that affected 302 families.
Khalid had contended eviction drives in the state were being carried out “without” following due process of law and the affected were also “not” being compensated.
The Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) had also sought a detailed report from the Nagaon district administration on the eviction drive by January 10.
Defending the eviction drive, chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma asserted in the state Assembly on December 21 that there would be no letup in the eviction drive to free government land. He had also urged the encroachers to leave on their own while ruling out rehabilitation.