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Three months after it carried out evictions from forest land adjoining Kaziranga, the BJP-led government of Sarbananda Sonowal on Wednesday evicted over 200 families in Sipajhar in Darrang district and cleared over 1,000 bigha of government land that was under encroachment for over two decades. Unlike in the Kaziranga eviction, there was no law and order situation there.
“We had served notice to more than 200 families who were illegally staying in about 1000 bigha government land in Fuhuratoli village under Sipajhar revenue circle for many years. Today morning we carried out the eviction and removed about 500 illegal structures that also included shops and sheds in a market the encroachers had set up on that land,” Darrang deputy commissioner Ashok Kumar Barman said.
Barman said the 1,000 bigha government land that was cleared on Wednesday was marked in government records as professional grazing reserve (PGR) which nearby villagers were earlier using on payment of a nominal fee. “The encroachers had not only set up dwelling houses, but also a market with shops and sheds, in addition to cultivating the land as if it were their own,” DC Barman told The Indian Express.
The deputy commissioner also said that there was not much resistance from the encroachers, many of whom had voluntarily dismantled the structures and carried them away to adjoining villages where they shifted. “We did not have to apply any force,” he said. Several structures were permanent in nature, built of cement, brick and RCC posts, he said.
While a section of the encroachers alleged that they were “genuine Indian citizens” who were targeted by the BJP-led government as Bangladeshi infiltrators because they were Muslims, deputy commissioner Barman said the authorities had not looked into the citizenship aspect. “Encroachers are encroachers. We have not looked at who they are,” he said.
The BJP-led government which had vowed to protect jaati-maati-bheti (nation, land and homestead) of the indigenous communities of Assam, had in the past three months carried out eviction in four places starting with Kaziranga and Guwahati in September, Bardowa Satra in October and Mayong in November.
Wednesday’s eviction was carried out even as three groups – Prabrajan Birodhi Mancha (PBM), Sangrami Satirtha Sanmilan and Dakshin Paschim Gowal Sanstha – staged a dharna in Mangaldoi demanding eviction of encroachers from over 77,000 bighas of government land under Sipajhar circle. The Prabrajan Birodhi Mancha is headed by Supreme Court lawyer Upamanyu Hazarika who was last year engaged by the apex court to carry out a spot investigation of encroachment of land by alleged Bangladeshi infiltrators in different places in Assam.