Krishnan, while speaking to the media in Guwahati on Sunday, alleged that numerous eviction notices were served through WhatsApp and some families even got the notices after the eviction was completed. The CPI-ML team that visited Dholpur on Saturday met the family members of Moinul Haque, who was among the two people killed during the clash when the eviction drive was carried out on Thursday. Its members demanded that all evicted persons at Darrang must be given back lands and their homes rebuilt.
While they met Moinul’s minor daughter and son, Krishnan said the daughter was sobbing inconsolably and had nothing to eat or drink. “The family of Moinul and the community are traumatised, especially children,” she said. “We saw two homes near Moinul Haque’s own, which had not only been demolished but burnt down. Moinul was defending his home from arson and firing by the police and the “photographer” associated with the DM’s office. What can possibly justify 17 Assam police personnel opening fire on a lone man armed with nothing but a stick? This is not crowd control, it is not an “encounter”, it is murder,” alleged Krishnan. The visiting team alleged that eviction notices have been served to some through WhatsApp call the previous night, some got notices after eviction, and some have not yet received notices at all. “What was the tearing hurry to evict by force, without even serving notices properly?” asked Krishnan.
Monsoon days are harsh in the riverine areas in Assam which are flood-prone. The evicted families are spending sleepless nights on a stretch of land under makeshift huts with tin roofs on the bank of the Brahmaputra on the south and a tributary on the north. The diminishing food stock, that the families could save after eviction, is causing worry on one hand. But on the other hand, the water they have been drinking directly from the Brahmaputra tributary carries the threat of water-borne diseases.
While the government termed all evicted families encroachers, the CPI-ML team defended them saying they are “erosion-affected farmers”. CPI-ML termed the killings of Moinul Haque and Sheikh Farid during the last eviction drive as “murders” and demanded the resignation of chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and sacking of the Darrang SP.
In a statement, the visiting team claimed that the evicted households have “settlement papers” dating back to February 7, 1979, which they said shows that the families have been paying “occupancy charges”. “The government has set up Anganawadi centres and schools (in Dholpur). When the river floods their land, they are displaced onto government land. How can such households be termed encroachments?” they questioned.
The team also comprised CPI-ML MLA from Bihar, Rambali Singh Yadav, party central committee member and Karnataka secretary Clifton D’Rozario, central committee member and Assam state committe member, Balindra Saikia.They were accompanied by Bihar youth activist Ravi Ranjan, AIKS leader Jayanta Gogoi, Jipal Krishok Sromik Sangha leader Pranab Doley and Sangrami Krishak Sramik Sangha leaders Dinesh Das and Jehirul Islam.
CPI-ML said directions of the Supreme Court in its order dated September 23, 2014 in People’s Union for Civil Liberties vs. Union of India [(2014) 10 SCC 635] (on police encounter killings) must be strictly complied with.
“There should be registration of FIR in regard to killing of Moinul Haque and Sheikh Farid. An independent investigation into this must be conducted by the CID or police team of another police station under the supervision of a senior officer. The police officer(s) concerned must surrender their weapons for forensic and ballistic analysis, including any other material as required for investigation,” read the statement.
They demanded that all eviction plans in the area under any pretext must be cancelled. Local communities are providing relief to the displaced persons but the government must take responsibility and provide relief including medical camps, drinking water, food, shelter, and hygiene, Krishnan added.