Authorities in Assam have evicted 4,449 families for allegedly encroaching on government land since Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma assumed power in May last year, the state Assembly was informed on Monday.

In a written reply to Congress MLA Sherman Ali, the chief minister also said the government has not conducted an investigation to find out how many of those evicted were foreigners and Indian citizens.

The Assam government has been conducting several eviction drives to clear plots of government land of alleged encroachment. Many of those who have been evicted or are being asked to vacate are poor Muslims who had earlier lost land in floods and erosion.

During one of these drives in October 2021, two persons were killed in Darrang district’s Sipajhar area after the Assam Police opened fire on villagers protesting against the eviction.

On Monday, the chief minister justified the government’s action stating that while shelter was a fundamental right, it did not apply to the evicted persons as they had settled illegally on government land.

Data provided by Sarma showed that the highest number of families – 2,153 were evicted from Darrang district’s Mangaldai town, followed by 805 from Lumding Reserved Forest area in Hojai district and 404 from a government land in Dhubri district.

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