Assam : 21st Sep 2016
The government in Assam killed two poor labour class people Anjuma Khatun and Fakhruddin today , and evicted 190 and 160 peasant families from Banderdubi and Deochurchang near Kaziranga National Park area. Many of the peasant families have proofs in the voter lists of having paid land revenue since 1965. But who cares, they are all ‘illegal Bangladeshis’, according to the shrill anti-immigrant rhetoric. And any how, even if they were not migrants from Nagaon, While 190 families from the village Banderdubi, 160 families from Deochurchang are being evicted there are no arrangements for their rehabilitation.
Hundreds of families including new born babies and elders have moved to national highway 37 with their belongings. Farmers of 10 villages in the Kaziranga National Park area are facing the threat of eviction from the land they inhabit for generations. The majority of the villagers are Muslims and there are apprehension that the communal prejudice of the BJP led State government is a reason for this gruesome attack on the innocent people.
Another villager, Nurul Islam, said the authorities have branded them Bangladeshis and have threatened to use force if they do not vacate the area.
“Why had they then issued land pattas to us in the first place? The authorities had also set up a lower primary school way back in 1960. It is their fault and we will not leave this place at any cost,” Islam said.
“Besides, wherever we go, we will be hunted down as Bangladeshis and not allowed to live in peace,” he added.
That the authorities are determined to carry out the eviction drive could be gauged from the fact that the lower primary school has been shut down and the two teachers have stopped coming.
About a 30-strong posse of armed policemen has been positioned near the highway for the past few days as a symbol of the administration’s resolve.
“We are no match for the police personnel, but we are ready to get shot than to leave this place,” Islam said.
Not everyone is as brave as Islam though. The sight of the policemen and their occasional strolls into the village have had the desired effect on some villagers, who have started dismantling their houses and shifting their valuables to residences of friends and relatives. “I don’t want to take any risk… if they bulldoze the dwellings, my few valuable items would be destroyed,” said Kabir Ali.
The seven Hindu families of the village, who live closer to the highway, far removed from the cluster of dwellings of the Khatuns and Islams, have, however, come to terms with the reality they face.
“We are ready to vacate this place for the sake of Kaziranga,” said Duleswar Kalita.
“The government has assured us compensation and we will shift to another suitable location,” said Dipak Kalita, Duleswar’s elder brother. These seven families, like their Muslim counterparts, have been living in the village for several decades.
The denizens of Kaziranga do frequent Banderdubi, especially during the floods, and the villagers have learned to live with the animals. But the villagers would have never guessed that one day they would have to leave so that the park’s animals could live in peace.