GUWAHATI, Jan 20 - With no action on their long-pending demand for completing the eviction drives against illegal migrants, the locals of Kurua and Kholihoi under Sipajhar revenue circle today held a demonstration in front of the Raj Bhavan here and submitted a memorandum to Governor Prof Jagdish Mukhi, seeking his intervention to allow them to graze their cattle and cultivate their own land occupied by the settlers.
Alleging that the government and the local administration are totally silent on the threat to existence of the indigenous people of the area, the demonstrators, mostly women, also said that attempts were made to sabotage their protest activity today. They alleged that while as per their earlier agenda they were scheduled to sit on demonstration beside the Dighalipukhuri, they were denied permission by the administration this morning and told to demonstrate in front of the Raj Bhavan.
�It is out of great anguish that we, the citizens of Kurua and Kholihoi, a large semi-urban village on the outskirts of Guwahati, address this representation to you as we are facing continuous atrocities from illegal encroachers of Bangladeshi origin on our land, making our livelihood virtually impossible. They (illegal encroachers) have active support of the local administration,� the memorandum to the Governor stated.
The protesters alleged that over the last 25 years, settlers of Bangladeshi origin have encroached on 77,420 bighas of land, which include professional grazing reserve, village land, etc. Even such land is shown as government land in the land records, but all villagers living adjacent to such land have been grazing their cattle in the grazing reserve and cultivating their own stretch of land in these areas.
�A large number of encroachers were directed to be evicted on May 9, 1984, (199 families) by the Government of Assam, that order never got executed and today there are more than 70,000 people in this land of 77,420 bighas,� the residents alleged.
Nitya Kalita, a resident of Sipajhar said that the locals are unable to graze cattle and cultivate the land owing to these encroachers, who also indulge in a lot of criminal activities, including cattle smuggling, etc., from here to Bangladesh.
�It is admitted according to government records that 26,000 acres of land is under encroachment, however, instead of undertaking any eviction, successive governments, including the present government, patronise such encroachers. After a long agitation, the district administration promised to undertake eviction in these areas, but in vain,� he added.
For a long time, the residents of the areas have been alleging government�s patronage to the illegal settlers through various schemes and facilities like 32 schools, three health centres, all benefits under Awas Yojana PDS, electricity, etc.
The memorandum also mentioned the murder of one Ananda Das, who was found dead in the area and as per the locals, he was killed by the encroachers.
�This particular incident created a huge sense of insecurity among the people of Kurua and after repeated protests the government gave a compensation of Rs 5 lakh. However, the culprits are yet to be arrested and the investigation has also been stalled,� Akash Kalita of Prabrajan Virodhi Manch, an organisation working in the area against illegal migration told The Assam Tribune.
Furthermore, being emboldened by the open support of the district administration and district police, they have become more aggressive. As a result, in the last two months more serious criminal activities have taken place, the protesters added. The protesters urged the Governor to intervene in the matter and ensure police protection to the local villagers so that they can harvest their crops and graze their cattle on the land in the area.