Forty-five Bodo families were evicted from Nalpara in Gorchuk of Guwahati and their homes were vandalised, the All Bodo Students Union has said in a memorandum to Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday.
According to the Guwahati district committee of the union, forest department officials on January 31 vandalised the homes and properties of the Bodo families and told them to leave the spot.
Rohini Ballav Saikia, divisional forest officer of Kamrup (East), told Scroll.in that the homes of more than 40 families who were “attempting to encroach the fresh areas of Guwahati’s Fatasil Reserved Forest” were dismantled during a drive on January 31.
The union, however, said the Bodo families had been living in the area for long and that the land had been donated by an non-governmental organisation. According to the union, different “illegal” migrants have set many new houses in the same area but have not been evicted.
“These are new people who have been staying in the huts for the last three to four months,” said Saikia. According to him, the families had been warned earlier to vacate the area but no prior notice had been issued.
“Local police and forest department security personnel were present during the drive,” Saikia added.
Demanding justice, the union has sought a high-level inquiry into the eviction of the Bodo families on January 31.
It has also demanded that the evicted families be rehabilitated at the same spot and be provided land under government policy or the Forest Rights Act, 2006, which recognises the right of forest-dwelling tribal communities. The union termed the developments as “injustice to the son of soil and indigenous tribal people”.
The All Bodo Students Union also demanded that families must be provided compensation and relief material.
Condemning the evictions, the Bodoland Janajati Suraksha Mancha and other members of tribal civil society said the government should evict those encroaching on tribal lands as per a December 2019 order of the Gauhati High Court, reported The Sentinel.
In a memorandum to the Assam chief minister, they said Bodos were the earliest residents of the Brahmaputra valley and had the right to live anywhere in Assam.