Protests mark Kaziranga eviction drive even as govt refuses to relent

Killing of two protesters near the Kaziranga National Park by the police has boiled into a major controversy as sharp reactions are coming in from across Assam against the ruling BJP government.

Two villagers lost their lives after police resorted to firing to control a mob after an eviction drive near the Kaziranga National Park in Nagaon district on Monday.

The Opposition, students’ organisations, human rights organisations and others have condemned the act of the government and termed it as “killing the villagers in the name of eviction”. The state government carried out an eviction drive at Banderdubi and Deochurchang villages following a Gauhati High Court order.

All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) slammed the eviction drive at the two villages near the national park. Condemning the act of government, AIUDF general secretary Abdur Rahim Khan said that the process could have been done in a peaceful and democratic manner.

“We condemn this barbarous act of the state government to kill innocent people who were seeking for compensation before getting evicted. They must be provided the due compensation as per the order but the administration did not do that,” Khan said.

According to the AIUDF leaders the people of the two villages have valid land documents of 1960s and their names in voters’ lists since the 1960s. “These are the revenue villages and the Kaziranga National Park authorities never demanded for these villages for their expansion,” Khan added.

Earlier, clashes broke out between residents of Bandardubi village – one of the three villages where people put up a stiff resistance against the eviction drive — bordering the KNP on Monday.

Khan said that the court was provided wrong information by Mrinal Saikia, now an MLA, who filed a PIL in 2015 to take action against rhino poaching.

“We have nothing to say against the verdict and we honour it. The high court has never said that these people shall not be compensated. Besides, Mrinal Saikia has provided wrong information to the High court. There was no hearing on that information from the victims. That means the order is ex partied,” said Rahim.

He said that an appeal has been submitted to the court but hearing is yet to be conducted.

AIUDF general secretary Aminul Islam said that the BJP led government is trying to spread communal hatred by launching an attack on Muslims.

“Even the minutes of the high power committee set up by the Gauhati High Court, say that land document holders and lawful residents of Banderdubi and Deochurchang revenue villages cannot be evicted,” Islam said.

The two deceased have been identified as Anjuma Khatun and Fakhruddin. Besides 16 others were injured including policemen.

Activists of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), an influential peasants’ body have also joined the villagers in the protest and vowed to launch an even larger agitation in this regard.

Reacting to the incident, the KMSS demanded for a CBI inquiry on the development. “Both the people shot from a close range in front of the present people there. We demand at least Rs 20 lakh for the families of the deceased,” said a statement of KMSS.