2 killed during Assam eviction drive, CM says action came after armed encroachers attacked cops

By PTI

NEW DELHI: A joint delegation of two prominent Muslim organisations met Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday over the violence during an eviction drive in Darrang district which saw police firing, and demanded a high-level judicial inquiry into the incident.

Clashes borke out between police and alleged encroachers, resulting in the death of two persons and injuries to 20, during an eviction drive last week in Gorukhuti village in Assam’s Darrang district.

The joint delegation of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind and the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind called on Sarma in Guwahati and expressed pain on the incidents in Darrang district and demanded that the Assam chief minister play his role in ensuring justice, a statement issued here by the Jamiat said.

The delegation demanded a high-level judicial inquiry should be conducted into the incident, Rs 20 lakh compensation to the family of those killed by police action, Rs 10 lakh to the injured person, immediate steps for relief and rehabilitation of evicted with minimum six bighas of land for agriculture and one bigha of land for residence, proper arrangement be made for health, sanitation and drinking water and foods for those people.

Maulana Hakeemuddin Qasmi, general secretary of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, who was part of the delegation, said that what happened in Darrang district was very distressing as human rights have paramount importance in the Constitution.

The delegation included Qasmi, vice president Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Maulana Ameenul Hasan, and secretary Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Mohammad Shafi Madani, among others.

Two local leaders were arrested for allegedly inciting violence during the eviction drive at Sipajhar in Assam’s Darrang district on September 23 in which two persons, including a 12-year-old boy, were killed in police firing and over 20 injured, an official said on Monday.

The arrested are Shan Mahmood, president of Chanua gram panchayat, and Hasmat Ali, a former president of the Baznapathar gram panchayat and they are presently in the custody of the Crime Investigation Department (CID) which is probing the incident, a district police official said.

“The two were arrested on Sunday night for instigating the people to attack the police during the eviction drive. They were responsible for inciting violence in the area, which left two persons dead and several others injured, including 11 policemen,” the official said.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had alleged on Saturday that there is evidence that the Popular Front of India was involved in the violence during the eviction drive and has written to the Centre to ban the outfit.

The PFI, however, denied the charge.

He had also alleged that according to intelligence reports, six people, including a college lecturer, had collected Rs 28 lakh during the last three months from these poor landless families with an assurance they are going to convince the government that there will be no eviction.

It is yet to be established whether the two arrested men had links with the PFI.

Meanwhile, a delegation of AIUDF MLAs called on the chief minister and urged him to provide a proper rehabilitation package for those who were evicted.

The package must include six bighas of land for agriculture and one bigha for residential purpose along with facilities such as drinking water, primary health care, education etc, the party said.

“Since people are living there for decades and had a settled life, therefore, before evicting people there should have been a proper rehabilitation package for them,” according to a memorandum submitted by the party to the Sarma.

It should also not be forgotten that these people are landless and compelling circumstances forced them to occupy the land from which they were evicted, the memorandum said.

The AIUDF also alleged that revenue officials and other agencies gave only 12 hours’ notice to the encroachers while it is impossible for them to vacate their land with families and belongings in such a short time.

The opposition Congress accused the BJP-led government of repressing protests by force since the state erupted against the Citienship Amendment Act in December 2019.

Assam Congress president Bhupen Bora demanded action against the Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police of Darrang.

Two persons were killed and 20 others injured in clashes between police and alleged encroachers during an eviction drive in villages under Sipajhar revenue circle on Thursday.

The Darrang district administration has so far cleared 4500 bighas of land and evicted 800 families since Monday and demolished four ‘illegally’ constructed religious structures at Sipajhar.

The chief minister had visited the place on June 7 and inspected the riverine areas allegedly encroached by “illegal settlers” near Dholpur Shiva temple and directed the district administration to clear the area for the government to start a community farming project.