In Assam’s Lakhimpur district, the Himanta Biswa Sarma-led government has evicted around 500 families, alleging that they have encroached on forest land. Most of those who were forcibly evicted are Bengali-speaking Muslims who live on the 10,000 acres that are part of the Pabha Reserve Forest.
The Muslim residents said that they have been living there for more than 25 years and they could not even take away their belongings and lost everything.
“We had a good crop yield this time which the authorities destroyed too,” the residents said.
Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma announced on Twitter on Sunday that 90 per cent of the encroachment in the reserve forest has been cleared in five days.
“Our commitment to preserving our natural resources is sacrosanct. Happy to share that after five days of eviction exercise, 4,163 ha (32,000 bighas) of Pabha Reserve Forest freed from encroachers,” Sarma said in a tweet.
The All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU) denounced the eviction drive as “inhuman and one-sided” and held a small demonstration in the Lakhimpur district’s Sonapur neighborhood, Two Circles reported.
“The people of these areas have been living here for decades,” Lakhimpur district Secretary of AAMSU Anwarul told PTI. “Houses were built under the PMAY [Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana] scheme, Anganwadi centres were built by the state, electricity connection and roads under the MGNREGA [Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act] programme were all made.”
The BJP government in Assam has been carrying out eviction drives in different Muslim localities of the State since September 2021. One of these drives, in Gorukhuti area of Darrang district, led to the death of two Muslims including a minor in a police firing.