District administration evicts encroachers from Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary
An eviction drive was carried out on Friday at Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary as per the directives of the Gauhati High Court. The eviction took place at Khanapara, Panjabari and Botahghuli and around 300 houses were evicted.
It has been alleged by the locals that the administration had served notice to the people to vacate the land one month ago. Forest officials had also visited the area on Thursday and asked the encroachers to leave the place within 24 hours failing which they would be evicted. “The forest officials had given us just a small notice to vacate the land and we repeatedly asked them to give us some time so that we could find alternative accommodation. The people mostly belong to Dhakuakhana, Lakhimpur and Majuli and we have been living here since 1998. We came here in search of livelihood as most of the places in upper Assam remain under floods half the year,” said one of the locals who were evicted from the area.
The people, mostly from the Mishing tribe, had settled here in the city and cannot go back to their native places as there is neither any compelling reason to do so nor do they have any places to live in.
Speaking to G Plus, one of the forest officials said that the people had encroached the forest land and were staying there since 1998. But the Congress had not evicted them as they had been its vote bank. During the eviction drive, most of the people had even shouted the slogan, ‘Tarun Gogoi Zindabad.’
Employees from the local authorities made use of excavators to demolish the illegal structures and also pressed into service an elephant to destroy the houses in Botahghuli.
Later, the locals protested against the eviction and the evicted people pelted stones at the police officials. One Suresh Sarma of the Forest Department and a police official were injured during the conflict that took place during the eviction drive.
Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Debabrata Saikia, when contacted by G Plus said, "These people are not encroachers but flood victims who sought refuge in the city. Nobody wants to encroach government or forest land on their will. They are here because their lands are lost and they have nowhere to go. We are not against eviction of encroached land, but keeping the condition of the people in mind, the government should have first rehabilitated them."
The operation was conducted by the forest department with support from the district administration, police, health department, APDCL etc.
Dr M Angamuthu, Deputy Commissioner Kamrup (M), had briefed the teams before the operation not to damage, destroy or burn any belongings of the encroachers and also directed the police to use minimum force during the eviction operation. Hiren Chandra Nath, Commissioner of Police, Haraprasad, Chief Conservator of Forests and Joint Commissioner of Police, Diganta Baruah were also present during the briefing.
The operation included more than 500 numbers of police and forest officials, elephants, JCB’s, wage labours with tool kits etc to make Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary encroachment-free. It is worth mentioning that many families were seen vacating their houses without any resistance.
File photo of the eviction drive