Guwahati: The All Assam Minorities Students' Union (AAMSU), an influential students body representing both religious and linguistic minorities in Assam, demanded a thorough judicial inquiry to the violent incident at Dholpur of Assam's Darrang district which left two persons dead and over 20 injured including policemen during protests and subsequent police firing.
"An inquiry by a sitting judge of the Gauhati High Court-monitored by the Chief Justice of the said High Court is much needed so that those guilty don't go scot-free," the organisation demanded.
"The communal elements filled with hate for a particular community in the ranks of Assam police is a serious threat and needs to be checked immediately. In the pretext of eviction from government land without providing alternative land and basic facilities, the state government cannot be allowed to violate human rights most particularly women and child rights", they said.
"A compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs for the deceased family and Rs. 5 lakhs for those injured should be announced immediately. Settlement of 6 bighas of land should be made immediately for the landless poor people living over there for decades with all the basic amenities," said Md Imtiaz Hussain General Secretary, AAMSU.
The 800 families occupying about 4,500 bighas of land, in Assam's Darrang district were evicted as part of the state government's drive against "illegal encroachments" last Monday on a peaceful note are now waiting for the government's promised 1000 bigha of land for the rehabilitation.
Men, women, and children with cattle are spending their days in makeshift camps for the last five days along the riverside in the same area.
"All the 800 families evicted on Monday are staying in a makeshift camp on-road or nearby sandbar in a wetland at Dholpur 3 village. The administration had proposed they will give 1000 bigha in the area where they are now staying. But there is no written statement or order. The villagers don't trust the oral proposal made by the admin which also led to the violent protest on Thursday," Md Iddrish Ali, a local leader of AAMSU said.
Ali said the land proposed is not fit for human habitation living as roofs of the houses will get inundated during the monsoon time.
"The evicted people living in the camps were neither provided with basic amenities. There was also a drinking water issue. Also, the land proposed is very little as to how they can accommodate 800 families in 1000 bigha?" Ali asked.
He said all the evicted people are dependent on farming if they don't have what they will cultivate?
Mir Sirajul Haque (47), a resident and shop owner at No 3 Dholpur village, whose shop was dismantled on Monday, also echoed that the people are now in dire need of help as many affected people loss everything they had
"The land proposed by the government was not given in writing and it is a swamp which is not suitable for making homes. They should rehabilitee everyone properly," Haque said
Meanwhile, Darrang SP Sushanta Biswa Sarma, who is the brother of Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that Monday's eviction drive was peaceful as no resistance was offered to the administration, and families were seen shifting their belongings of their own.
Denying that there was a communal angle to the incident, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday claimed that the images from the police firing that have been broadcast till now do not give out the full picture.
"One video from the site showed a man with a stick charging towards the policemen-in-riot-gear armed with sticks and guns. He is seen being overpowered, shot, and then brutally thrashed. The blows don't stop even as he lies motionless on the ground," Sarma said
"The eviction was supposed it be done against 60 families. How did ten thousand people come there?" Sarma asked.
"You have to see the total video. The protesters first attacked with a sharp shovel. But we don't justify or support retaliation. If you have to pick up a part of the video clip, you should show the entire clip, the entire sequence," Sarma added.
"Twenty-seven policemen were gheraoed by twenty thousand people. Two-three injured police personnel were Muslims. So it's not communal, but why is the national media giving it a communal color?"
He said he had taken into confidence the Opposition and representatives of the state's minorities about the eviction drive. He accused them of creating "mayhem" now. He also blamed the 'national media' for not stating the complete sequence of events that led to the tragedy.
The state government has announced a judicial inquiry into the violent incident by a retired Gauhati High Court judge whose name is yet to be declared. Sarma has, meanwhile, said that the eviction drive will not be stopped.
The government claimed that there are 77,000 bighas of "encroached land" in Sipajhar, around 35,000 had been lost to the Brahmaputra. On Monday and Thursday, about 10,000 bighas were cleared. That covers at least 1,200-1,300 families, officials said.
Among those killed during the violent incident were a 12-year old boy Shaikh Farid who was returning after collecting his Aadhar card from the post office and 28-year old Moinul Haque who in a video that went viral on social media was seen shot dead by the police while a photographer, hired by the district administration to document the situation, was seen kicking, and jumping over his body.
The photographer was later arrested.