Assam evicts 500 families, mostly Muslims, on alleged encroachmenttext_fields
Guwahati: In Assam's Lakhimpur district, the BJP government has evicted around 500 families, alleging that they have encroached on forest land. Most of those who lost their homes are Bengali-speaking Muslims who live on the 10,000 acres that are part of the Pabha Reserve Forest.
It is alleged that those who have been living there for more than 25 years were also included in the evacuees. Villagers say that many could not even take away their belongings and lost everything. They added that they had a good crop yield this time which the authorities destroyed too.
Also, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma announced on Twitter on Sunday that 90 per cent of the encroachment in the reserve forest has been cleared in five days.
"Our commitment to preserving our natural resources is sacrosanct. Happy to share that after five days of eviction exercise, 4,163 ha (32,000 bighas) of Pabha Reserve Forest freed from encroachers," Sarma said in a tweet.
The Chief Minister said that protecting our natural resources is of utmost importance and appreciated the officials who worked hard for this. Alleging encroachment by villagers, farms in the nearby area have also been evacuated on a large scale.
Lakhimpur Divisional Forest Officer Ashok Kumar Dev Chaudhary claimed that only 0.32 sq km of the Pabha reserve forest is what remains, while it was 46 sq km in 1941. Chowdhury added that a total of 701 families encroached on areas in the said forest.
The Himanta Biswa Sarma government that came to power in 2021 has displaced many families in different parts of the state, citing encroachment. Opposition parties allege that the fact that most of them are Muslims proves the discriminatory mentality of the BJP government in the state.
However, Himanta asserts that similar moves will continue as long as the BJP government rules the state.