Several people were injured and hundreds of houses demolished after the Assam government on Monday carried out an eviction drive against illegal encroachers at two areas under Amchang wildlife sanctuary in Guwahati.
Hundreds of agitators took to the streets in different parts of the state, demanding immediate halt to the ongoing eviction drive.
Armed with the eviction order issued by the Gauhati high court, police and civil administration entered the Nabajyoti Nagar and Kankan Nagar areas under the Amchang wildlife sanctuary and demolished houses and properties belonging to the illegal encroachers.
“Amchang wildlife sanctuary eviction is being carried out as per Gauhati high court direction. ln addition to forest department personnel, Kamrup (Metro) district administration engaged 20 executive magistrates (ADM, SDM and circle officers), 1,500 police personnel (joint commissioner of police, deputy commissioners of police, assistant commissioners of police, etc concerned with supporting personnel) in the drive,” said state forest minister Pramila Rani Brahma.
“Besides, the security force personnel, 10 elephants and ten earth mover machines have also been engaged in the eviction drive,” she said, adding that the drive will continue till Wednesday. A total of 408 houses have been demolished so far, she said.
On Tuesday, 324 permanent, semi permanent and temporary structures were demolished. Altogether 734 structures were demolished in the two days, a DIPR Kamrup Metro information said.
“The eviction is being done at the instruction of the Gauhati high court and we cannot stop. The encroachment of forest areas and other government land must be cleared and we are bound to follow the court order,” Brahma added.
Local people tried to resist the eviction drive forcing the administration to use tear gas shells to disperse the crowd, said officials.
“Five people including three women and one photographer of the Assam forest department were injured during the chaos that followed after the firing of tear gas shells,” said a forest department official.
Locals, however, alleged that they had not received any prior notice about the eviction drives to be carried out in the area.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people and different social organizations took to the streets on Monday opposing the eviction drive against indigenous people residing under the Amchang wildlife sanctuary. Mishing organization Takam Mishing Porin Kebang (TMPK) called for a 12-hour dawn-to-dusk Assam bandh on Monday to oppose the eviction drive.
Protest programmes were organized in Majuli, Bihpuria, Jagun, Sivsagar, Lakhimpur, Gohpur and many other places where hundreds of agitators came out to the streets to protest and condemn the eviction drive by blocking roads and imposing shutdowns.
“The people living in Amchang wildlife sanctuary are all displaced people due to floods and erosion from different places of the state. These people have been living there since before 2004 when Amchang was declared a wildlife sanctuary,” said a TMPK leader and appealed the government to be sympathetic towards the state’s indigenous people.