Despite HC strictures, Himanta makes bulldozers a part of Assam's landscape
Guwahati, March 12: Assam was not habituated to seeing bulldozing of houses, large-scale evictions, and razing multi-storey buildings to the ground within hours. However, for the last two years, the scenario has changed dramatically soon after Himanta Biswa Sarma took charge as the Chief Minister.
Now-a-days, bulldozing is an everyday phenomenon in Assam. Either here or there, the eviction news has taken a regular spot in the media.
Though a lot of controversy has already erupted over 'bulldozer-trend', the state government is in no mood to give up, even after the High Court was extremely critical of these steps.
Sarma has repeated it a number of times that his machinery would not stop till every occupied area was cleared of 'illegal encroachment'.
Some private madrassas were demolished by district authorities in lower Assam over alleged links with Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and Bangladesh-based terror outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT).
The state government spared no time to raze these madrasas.
Badruddin Ajmal, Lok Sabha MP and All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) leader, once said, reacting to a demolition drive against madrassas: "The madrasas are public properties that cannot be bulldozed without any legal notice. Even the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has stopped using bulldozers."
The madrassas had to be dismantled because they were constructed in violation of the norms of building construction in the state, the authorities said.
In September, 2021, a violent outbreak between the police authorities of the Darrang district and the locals of Gorukhuti in Sipajhar Revenue Circle occurred during an eviction drive in the Dholpur area that resulted in police firing.
At least two protesters were killed and twelve others were injured in the incident.
Authorities in Assam's Nagaon district destroyed the homes of numerous families in May last year after they were accused of setting fire to the Batadrava Police Station.
The police and administration took this step after a mob, in response to an alleged case of a local fish seller dying while being held in custody, set fire to a portion of the Batadrava Police Station in the district.
Later, the Gauhati High Court came down heavily on the Assam government after taking suo motu cognizance of the case involving the use of bulldozers on the houses of the accused in the Batadrava police station arson case.
The state government was questioned by the court over the legal basis for the use of bulldozers.
The court then told the government's counsel: "You (the state government) show us any criminal law under which the police can uproot a person with a bulldozer without any order while investigating a crime."
The two judges on the bench also observed, "Nobody is safe in the country if this kind of action is permitted."
The government had to assure the court that proper action would be taken against those officers involved in the bulldozing of the accused's houses.
However, all these could not stop the Assam government machinery from continuing with the bulldozing.
In the previous week too, in Cachar district, a good number of houses were dismantled by the administration, although the residents claimed that they had 'proper' documents for the buildings, the houses were razed without verifying the papers.