Assam - ‘The Plight of the Displaced is Worse Than Prisoners of War’
Sudden and Violent Eviction Drive in Dhalpur
On September 29, earlier this week, a CPI(M) delegation consisting of Brinda Karat (Member of Polit Bureau, Guwahati), Suprakash Talukdar (Central Committee Member) and Monoranjan Talukdar (MLA) and others travelled to Dhalpur 1, 2 and 3 to assess the conditions of the peasant evictees in Dhalpur, Assam.
In a letter to the Chief Minister of Assam, Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, Brinda Karat wrote of the severe lack of amenities and arrangements for the 1000 or more families that are based there.
Based on the findings of the visit, Karat enlists the poor conditions in which the peasants lived, and how they have been evicted from the land with the help of armed police. This despite these long term residents of Dhalpur, Darrang, having all their citizenship documents. The visiting committee found that the state government did not conduct any surveys to determine the authenticity of the documents, and moreover, the residents were given less than 12 hours’ notice to evacuate.
“This entire process is totally illegal and inhuman,” reads Karat’s letter to the CM. “No rehabilitation plan has been made nor has any land been offered….Again without settling the claims the government is taking illegal measures to claim the land.”
The visiting committee, on speaking to the displaced peasants, found that on September 23, the homes of these residents were “razed to the ground destroying whatever meagre belongings they had…..The police fired directly on the people killing two.”
In addition to these atrocities, little has been done to rehabilitate the displaced population. There is not enough food and water, and children are being forced to drink the dirty river water. Huge numbers of these displaced children are unable to go to school. And since the police have blocked the roads in the area, these families are unable to access medical care as well. Some masjids and madrasas have also been vandalised and destroyed.
In the letter, Karat surmises that this is all due to the Assam government’s agenda to oppress the minority communities in the state. “In other words, in this area of Assam, citizens of India are deprived of their rights only because they are Muslims,” reads the letter.
The document lists a series of requests on behalf of the displaced population of Dhalpur, and they are as follows -
1. Immediately end all evictions and forcible capture of the land without a proper survey and verification. Till such time, the families should be allowed to return to their lands;
2. Compensation should be paid to families of those killed and injured. Compensation should be paid to all who have lost their belongings and livelihood;
3. Immediate relief including food, water, temporary latrines, shelters must be provided to those evicted;
4. Action to be taken against the police personnel involved with the killings and also connivance with the barbaric actions of the photographer.
The reports of communal violence and discrimination from Assam have been piling up. This letter directed to the CM, laying out the realities of one such instance instigated by the State itself has called the act ‘horrifying and nightmarish’.
It says,“the plight of the displaced is worse than prisoners of war.”