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Bangla migrants setting up houses inside national park

The Orang National Park in northern Assam,believed to have about two dozen tigers,is under threat from encroachers.

Written by Samudra Gupta Kashyap | Guwahati |
May 20, 2010 2:36:37 am

The Orang National Park in northern Assam,believed to have about two dozen tigers,is under threat from encroachers. The encroachers have been particularly targeting the south-eastern portion of the park with the authorities resorting to lathicharge and lobbing of teargas shells to drive them away.

“There has been a systematic design to encroach upon the National Park,with the encroachers crossing the Brahmaputra and Dhansiri rivers to erect bamboo houses overnight in order to establish their claim over the land,” S K Daila,divisional forest officer (DFO) in charge of Orang,said.

The 79-sq km park is about 140 kms northeast of Guwahati.

While encroachers have been eyeing Orang for several years now,it was on May 6 that about 2,000 people landed in the southeast portion of the park and erected thatch-and-bamboo houses. They brought with them banana trees which they planted around the houses. The districts of Darrang and Morigaon (on the south bank of the Brahmaputra) have a large presence of Bangladeshi infiltrators,and 40 persons were killed in clashes between migrants and indigenous communities around two years ago.

“The situation was so alarming that we had to seek reinforcement from the Assam Rifles in order to carry out the evictions,” H K Bora,Additional Deputy Commissioner of Darrang district,currently holding charge of District Magistrate,said from Mangaldoi. A number of cases have been registered against the encroachers in the Dalgaon police station and several of them have been put behind the bars.

Even as the authorities carried out eviction on May 6,the encroachers returned last Monday,this time armed with spears,to once again set up houses inside the park. At least 20 houses were demolished on Monday. Orang has been facing serious problems of poaching with a large number of people,mostly of doubtful citizenship status,encroaching upon revenue land adjoining the park. Declared a national park in 1999,it is home to 68 rhinos and 22 tigers.

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