BJP government in Assam gears up for eviction in Goalpara, AIUDF chief seeks alternative arrangement

Himanta Biswa Sarma-led government has carried out several eviction drives and evicted 'encroachers' from forests and government land
Last Updated : 15 January 2023, 13:29 IST

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The BJP-led government in Assam is gearing up for another eviction drive--this time in Goalpara, a Muslim-majority district to clear forest land from alleged encroachers.

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma recently said the eviction drive would soon be carried out as per an order of Gauhati High Court, recently which asked the state government to carry out a survey in the forest land and clear the same from encroachers.

Although Sarma asked MLAs in Goalpara to discuss the matter with the district administration, Badruddin Ajmal, the chief of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) on Sunday appealed to the Chief Minister that the eviction drive should be stopped. He said that the eviction drive in Goalpara should not be carried out during the winter. "The eviction drive should be kept in abeyance till an alternative arrangement is made. Many victims of flood and erosion, who lost their land due to the annual calamity, have been living there for years. Eviction of such victims without an alternative arrangement would be nothing but inhuman," Ajmal said in a statement on Sunday.

The AIUDF chief said he would move Gauhati High Court, if required, to stop such eviction drives.

Himanta Biswa Sarma-led government has carried out several eviction drives and evicted "encroachers" from forests and government land since it came to power in May 2021. Eeviction drives were carried out in Darrang, Hojai, Barpeta, Nagaon and Lakhimpur districts. The latest eviction was carried out on January 11 to clear 450 hectares of land at Pabho Reserve Forest in North Assam's Lakhimpur district. Nearly 300 families, mostly Bengali-speaking Muslims, have been evicted from the forest land.

Although the BJP-led government has claimed that the eviction was carried out irrespective of religion, groups representing Muslims in Assam including the AIUDF alleged that the drives were targeted at the Bengali-speaking Muslims, whom BJP often refers to as "infiltrators" from neighbouring Bangladesh.

Several BJP MLAs have openly claimed that "Bangladeshis" have taken over forests, government land and those belonging to Satras, the Vaishnavite monasteries across Assam. The government is committed to free those lands, they said.

Published 15 January 2023, 13:29 IST

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