Guwahati, Sep 19 (IANS): At least two people were killed and several others injured after clashes broke out between civilians and security forces near Kaziranga National Park in Assam on Monday over an eviction drive by the Nagaon district administration.
Hundreds of protesters tried to prevent the eviction from Banderdubi village under Kaliabor subdivision.
The locals and protesters erected barricades to stop the district administration's eviction team, forcing the security personnel to first resort to firing of tear gas shells and later bullets to contain the mob.
Although locals claimed that the deaths of a youth and a woman were due to police firing, the police have denied this.
The Assam District General of Police (DGP) Mukesh Sahay said: "The eviction drive in Kaziranga National Park is being carried out with the district administration as per a court order."
"Earlier also the government had tried to evict people from the area without applying force," he said, adding, "After the new order, most of the people had already vacated their houses." He blamed certain people, saying, "Due to instigation of some people, some inhabitants opposed the drive that led to the situation."
Sahay admitted that there were two deaths but denied that they were due to police firing. "We are waiting for the post mortem report to confirm the exact cause," he said.
The eviction drive came in the wake of an order passed by a division bench of the Guwahati High Court. The court had directed the Deputy Commissioners of Golaghat, Sonitpur and Nagaon districts to take expeditious steps to evict the inhabitants in the second, third, fifth and sixth additions of the national park.
The Assam government had earlier assured proper rehabilitation and compensation to the inhabitants of these villages within 40 days.
Reacting to the incident, Assam's Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that he had met the inhabitants of the three villages near the national park where the eviction was supposed to be completed between September 19 and 21. Biswa, too, blamed "some people of trying to create a situation" that had resulted in the incident.
There are at least 190 families in Banderdubi village alone, located about two kilometre north of the National Highway 37, who claim to have lived there for more than 60 years.