On Monday (November 8), the Assam government carried out an eviction drive in the Lumding reserve forest in the Hojai district of Assam.
As per reports, the eviction drive was carried out under the direction of the Guwahati High Court to remove illegal occupants from reserve forest lands. The Assam government had deployed about 1000 security personnel including the State Police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to prevent any untoward incident. According to the district administration in Hojai, most of the illegal occupants had left their homes prior to the commencement of the eviction drive.
Both elephants and bulldozers were used to demolish the illegal structures. An official informed on Monday, “Today, we have demolished around 555 houses, illegal structures. Most of the people who encroached on the forest lands have cooperated with us and they left the forest lands. Our drive will continue tomorrow also.” The eviction drive will also continue on November 9.
Eviction drive has been carried out peacefully in Lumding forest. Everyone (settlers) has been sent home. The forest is free of encroachment from today. Detailed statement to be released in the evening: Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma pic.twitter.com/jJiyzaj1Le— ANI (@ANI) November 8, 2021
Reportedly, the Lumding reserve forest comprises an area of over 22,403 hectares, out of which 1,410 hectares was encroached upon by illegal settlers. According to Hojai Divisional Forest Officer Gounadeep Das, about 3,000 people from 670 families were living on the encroached land. The illegal settlers took up the occupation of agriculture and business to sustain themselves.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had informed that a total of 1500 families were evicted from the Lumding reserve forest. “Eviction drive has been carried out peacefully in Lumding forest. Everyone (settlers) has been sent home. The forest is free of encroachment from today.,” he had remarked.
As per reports, most of the encroachment was for economical reasons. A mafia named Nazrul had brought Muslim families from different places like Barpeta, Nagaon, and Dhubri. These people were engaged in farming ginger and turmeric worth crores in these forest lands. A case against Nazrul has also been registered. As per a report in Organiser, some locals have alleged that the land mafia has even sold the encroached land to migrant families in lakhs of Rupees per bigha.
Violence in Darrang district of Assam during anti-encroachment drive
Recently, an eviction drive conducted by the administration in Darrang district in Assam had turned violent after encroachers of the land attacked security forces. While 9 policemen were injured in the attack by the mob of illegal encroachers, 2 attackers were killed in retaliatory police firing.
The incident took place at the Dholpur in the Garukhuti area near the Sipajhar town in Darrang district in Assam, where the Himanta Biswa Sarma government was conducting an eviction drive of illegal settlers on land belonging to the government or other organisations like temples. When the eviction party reached the place inhabited by Bengali speaking Muslims on Thursday, hundreds of people clashed with the police, attacking them with stones, machetes, pointed bamboo sticks etc.