Assam Assembly Opposition leader Debabrata Saikia on Wednesday filed a PIL in Gauhati High Court seeking rehabilitation by the Assam government before eviction.

Informing about the PIL, the leader of the Assam Congress Legislature Party (ACLP), Debabrata Saikia on his Twitter handle on Wednesday wrote: “Filed a PIL-65\202 in public interest. Seeking social impact assessment & proper rehab policy before any eviction and enquiry into recent Dholpur incident etc. at Guwahati High Court.”

Congress leader Debabrata Saikia in the PIL said: “Since 2016 in Assam, continuous attempts have been made to deprive the local people from land rights on various grounds. It has also been seen that no proper eviction guidelines are followed while conducting eviction.”

Also read: Assam: Police arrest two persons in connection with Sipajhar eviction clash

Saikia informed that the first eviction was carried out by the ruling BJP at Kaziranga National Park where “many settlers including schools founded by the govenment in 1960s were also evicted and at that time it was claimed that it was all occupied by illegal immigrants and it was a ploy to occupy upper Assam from Kaziranga”.

However, during the Assembly session, it was proved that “those people were Indian citizens and as such the govemment had to pay compensation for the evicted land and other damages done during eviction,” Saikia said.

In 2016 many minority people living in char sand bar areas of Darrang district were “evicted without prior notice”, Saikia claimed.

“At that time we, the Congress party, made a huge demonstration and demanded that all Indian citizens, who were evicted for occupying government land be compensated, rehabilitated and the identity of each evicted person should be verified as all the evicted persons were termed as illegal foreigners,” he said.

After that, the govemment carried out another eviction drive “in the pretext of cleating illegal occupants from wildlife sanctuary at Amchang”, he said.

This was later proved to be an eviction on revenue land and many of the people were detected as flood-affected tribal people who came to settle due to loss of land at various places due to erosion.

Similarly, many people belonging to various local ST tribes, tea garden people, who had settled in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts after the great earthquake of 1950s were evicted without proper rehabilitation after the area, where they had settled, was declared as wildlife reserve by the state government.

The govemment also has deprived ST, tea tribe and OBC people of Mikir Bamuni Grant of Nagaon district of land rights to give land to private power plant, Saikia alleged.

The Ryot Act was not taken into consideration there, he added.

Again, this year within a span of 45 months in Darrang district, eviction has been carried out in the pretext of setting up an agricultural farm.

“Most of the evicted families are landless minority people who have migrated from other districts due to flood and erosion to this district. They have been settled there for more than 50 years and they are not at all foreigners,” the Assam Congress leader said.

According to the Assam Accord, anyone coming after March 24, 1971 are to be regarded as foreigner.

During the latest eviction drive on September 23, 2021, two persons were killed by police firing and many others were severely injured, he said.

Saikia said regarding these incidents, as the Leader of the Opposition in Assam Legislative Assembly, he has approached the state government, National Human Rights Commission, National SC/ST Commission against the inhuman, undemocratic, unconstitutional forced eviction.

However, my prayers have not borne any result, he said.

As such, he said he has approached the Gauhati High Court by filing the PIL petition vide PIL 65/2021 (listed on ‘ October 7) demanding the following prayers among others:

He demanded that mandatory social impact assessment be made and the principles of the right to fair compensation and transparency in land acquisition are followed,

Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 and settled principle of law in letter and spirit in respect of evictions sought to be carried out in Assam.

He demanded that meaningful consultation be carried out with the evicted persons and schemes should be formulated for their rehabilitation, resettlement and compensation in a time-bound manner.

He also demanded that the unconstitutional Cabinet Committee’s decision to set up agro farm/model be quashed as it is in violation of Panchayat Act.

Saikia urged the court to stay the Cabinet decision and all consequent action concerning the setting up of Model Project/Agricultural Farm at Garukhuti in Darrang district including further eviction.

He also sought a fair and independent investigation in a time-bound manner under the scrutiny of the High Court into the deaths of Moinul Hague and Sheikh Farid and injuries caused to several other persons and register a First Information Report.

He urged to pay compensation to the families of the deceased persons for egregious violation of their fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution,

Saikia urged the HC to consider applications on behalf of the evicted persons for allotment and settlement of the said lands in terms specified by the Assam Land and Revenue Regulation, 1886 and other Rules

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