Amchang, Bokajan settlers evicted
Residents block road; 5 injured as police use tear gas to disperse protesters; KMSS members held
Guwahati: Stories of displacement as a result of erosion in Assam's Lakhimpur, Dhemaji and Majuli districts were heard time and again inside Amchang reserve forest here as the state government on Monday morning resumed an eviction drive, according to a Gauhati High Court order.
A group of settlers blocked the way at Nabajyoti Nagar as a team of forest and Kamrup (metro) administration officials entered the forest, forcing the police to fire tear gas shells to disperse the mob. Five persons, including a photographer of the forest department, received minor injuries in the melee that followed.
Malati Das, Anima Khatun, Rashita Khatun, Gautam Baishya and Utpal Patgiri (the photographer) who were injured are stable.
Forty-five-year-old carpenter Ratneswar Doley was in tears at Kankannagar as he saw his two tin-roof bamboo huts bulldozed by an elephant. Doley, a member of the Mising community from Dhakua-khana in Lakhimpur district, said he had settled in the Amchang forest in 2003 after losing his house and farmland to erosion.
"I stayed in a rented home at Ganeshguri here and had to pay Rs 1,500 per month. But as the rent went up, I had no option but to settle here. Most of those living here either lost their land due to erosion or came in search of petty jobs," he said.
Rupali Doley looked helpless as she waited with her month-old daughter as her house was razed. "I don't know where we will go now," she said.
Altogether 408 dwellings were demolished at Kankannagar, Yusufnagar and Nabajyotinagar in the drive which began at 8.40am on Monday. It will continue till Wednesday. The eviction drive was launched in August, but was suspended after two days because of massive protests. Nearly 3,000 families are living inside the reserve forest.
Members of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, Takam Mising Kebang Porin and a few other organisations staged a protest asking why the BJP-led government was evicting the indigenous people. Three KMSS leaders - Dhaijjya Konwar, Bedanta Laskar and Gopi Saikia - were arrested during a protest, KMSS said in a statement.