The residents of Laika and Dodhia villages of Dibru Saikhowa National Park on Thursday staged a protest in front of the deputy commissioner’s office in upper Assam’s Tinsukia.

The protesters holding play cards and banners hit the Tinsukia road seeking their rehabilitation.

The protesters clashed with the security forces when the police prevented them with barricades from entering the DC office.  Some of the protesters broke down the barricade to enter into Tinsukia DC office.

“Our rehabilitation process has not started yet. For the last several days, we are protesting for the rehabilitation of 1480 families of Laika-Dodhia villages.

“The people are staying at the makeshift camp near Tinsukia DC office braving the severe cold. We demand rehabilitation of our people at the earliest,” said Apio Taid, member of Laika and Dodhia Rehabilitation Committee.

Asom Jatiya Parishad (AJP) president Lurin Jyoti Gogoi visited the people of Laika and Dodhia at the Tinsukia protest site and assured them of all help.

Takam Mising Parin Kebang (TMPK) Tinsukia assistant general secretary Ajay Doley said, “Till now the government has not done anything for the rehabilitation of the Laika-Dodhia villagers. The people are suffering in the makeshift camp for the last one month.”

“We have given the January 31, 2021 deadline for the rehabilitation of the people.  If our demand is not met within the stipulated time then the people will rehabilitate themselves in Dibru-Saikhowa National Park,” he said.

The two villages which are located inside the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park have been the settlement of families who were displaced by the earthquake of 1950.

Laika falls under the Tinsukia district and Dodhia in adjoining the Dibrugarh district.

The villagers, who belong to the indigenous Mising tribe, mostly displaced people from Dhemaji and Dibrugarh districts, have been residing in the two forest villages for the last 70 years.

However, since India’s Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 prohibits any kind of human settlement within a national park, no development activities have been carried out in the two villages.

On December 30, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal constituted a committee to find a logical and everlasting solution for the rehabilitation of the households of Laika and Dodhia villages.

The chief minister asked the environment and forest and revenue department to permanently rehabilitate the families by January 31.

For the rehabilitation of the residents of Dodhia, the government has proposed Lakhimpur’s Adhkhona-Adielani area under the Harmoti range and for the rehabilitation of the people of Laikia, the government has given land at Namphai reserve forest.

The TMPK, the influential students’ organisation of Mising community, rejected the state government proposal for the rehabilitation of the people of Laikia and Dodhia in Lakhimpur and Tinsukia districts.

Asom Jatiya Parishad (AJP) staged a sit-in demonstration in Guwahati seeking rehabilitation of Laika and Dodhia residents.

Avik Chakraborty

Avik Chakraborty is Northeast Now Correspondent in Dibrugarh. He can be reached at: babs8oct@gmail.com