Eviction drive launched in Assam’s reserve forest
Deputy commissioner Sumit Sattawan said around 500 families living illegally in the forest were issued eviction notices and almost all of them voluntarily brought down encroachments
Hundreds of security and forest personnel have been deployed for the removal of encroachments over a 500-hectare area under Pabha Reserve Forest in Assam’s Lakhimpur district.
Deputy commissioner Sumit Sattawan said around 500 families living illegally in the forest were issued eviction notices and almost all of them voluntarily brought down encroachments and moved elsewhere.
“Since most families have left, the drive would involve razing structures still standing in the area. The eviction is going smoothly, but since it is a big area, we expect to complete it by Wednesday evening,” Sattawan said.
Authorities carried out a mock eviction drill on Sunday to ensure that the drive concludes smoothly. Around 800 personnel from Assam Police, Central Reserve Police Force, and forest department have been deployed for the drive.
The government in September told the state assembly that 4,449 families, including 2153 in Darrang, 805 in Hojai district’s Lumding Reserve Forest, and 404 in Dhubri, have been evicted from government lands since May 2021 when the Bharatiya Janata Party-led returned to power.
Most evictions have been peaceful. Two persons were killed in police firing and at least 20 were injured at Dholpur in Darrang in September last year when clashes between police and residents erupted during one of the first such drives.
The government launched the drive to free land from alleged encroachers and start agricultural and other allied activities by engaging indigenous people.
Two eviction drives were conducted near Vaishnavite monasteries last month. They included the removal of settlements from around 330-acre land around Batadraba Than, the birthplace of 15th-16th century saint-scholar and socio-religious reformer Srimanta Sankardev.