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1500 Adivasi families evicted from forest land

By Correspondent

BONGAIGAON, Nov 3 � The Forest department under Haltugaon Forest Division in the western part of the State has burnt down houses of more than 1500 Adivasi families of 33 forest villages in Longchung Forest area in the name of an eviction drive from forest land. Under open sky and beside their belongings which were burnt to ashes, many malnourished mothers were noticed standing like statues with their newborns in their lap. Small children were seen having shelter under wild bushes. School books of children, clothes, crops, bicycles, ploughs were lying burnt. Several pre-primary and primary school houses, temples and churches were set on fire by the forest workers, locals of this forest area alleged.

Some victims even complained of misbehaviour by the eviction party. No prior notice was served to these innocent poor Adivasis by the Forest department. These Adivasi people have been living in these forest villages since generations. �Since Adivasis are forest dwellers, they have every right to settle in forest land and the Forest Right Act, 2006 has confirmed this right� many leaders of Adivasi organisations pointed out. Hence violation of this Act is an offence. Therefore, the Forest department and other security forces who are evicting the Adivasis should be punished, the leaders demanded.

Chief of Birsa Commando Force, Birsing Munda in his reaction said that these Adivasi people have been living in forest land since 1974. On the other hand, AASAA president Borko Charmako said that the eviction drive should stop immediately otherwise a massive agitation will be launched. The BCF chairman Durga Hasda expressing his anger said that in every eviction in BTC only Adivasis are targeted.

Adivasi Cobra Military of Assam (ACMA) chairman Jabrias Xaxa said that their organisation will bring this matter to the notice of State and Central Governments. However, Adivasi Sewa Samiti president Boyel Hembram termed this eviction as a political conspiracy.

It is to be mentioned that, all the victims of this eviction drive are the supporters of BTC chief Hagrama Mahilary. In the last BTC poll they cast their vote for Hagrama. But, now they are helpless. Not a single BPF party leader is standing beside these poor victims in this crucial time, the Adivasi leaders rued.

Already a massive �green hunt� is going on in the dense forests of Kokrajhar and Chirang districts by the timber �Mafias�. Sources said that the Forest department, police and politicians are in a nexus and favour these mafias and helping deforestation. �Adivasis are not involved in deforestation, they know sustainable use of forest products. So, what purpose will be served by evicting Adivasis from their dwellings, questioned the Adivasi leaders.

Protesting this eviction drive and demanding early rehabilitation of the poor Adivasis of those forest villages, eight Adivasi organisations have jointly called a 12-hour Assam bandh on November 4. Later, if the situation warrants, they will launch a strong democratic agitation.

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