The Assam Police on Monday detained suspended Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed after he held a protest against an eviction drive in Barpeta district, ANI reported.

The MLA from Baghbar claimed that he was illegally detained at the Barpeta police station.

The Barpeta administration carried out the eviction drive in the Baghbar Satra Kanara area, where authorities alleged that a group of persons had encroached on close to 400 bighas of government land. Around 45 families from the area were evicted, Circle Officer Sunbar Chutia said.

The administration had deployed a large number of security officials in the area during the eviction.

“Earlier, we had issued notice three times to them [evicted families] and a public notice,” the official said. “The entire eviction drive was conducted peacefully. These lands will be government’s land and the government will use these lands as per requirement.”

However, Ahmed said that the eviction drive at Baghbar Satra Kanara was illegal, inhuman and against constitutional provisions. He said that families who had been displaced due to land erosion had been living in the area.

“It was the constitutional duty of successive governments to rehabilitate these erosion affected families, but they didn’t,” he added. “As a result, the landless and homeless families are taking shelter wherever they could.”

The suspended Congress leader said that he had sought an assurance from the administration that the families would be rehabilitated within a month. “But alas, the administration paid no heed to my demand and detained me in violation of my rights of peaceful protest,” he said.

Ahmed said that the land had been allotted to a now-defunct organisation named Boro Krishak Samiti in 1992, but the organisation never took possession of the land. “Consequently the land got reverted back to revenue department, and hence the allottee ‘Boro Krishak Samitee’ has no claim, whatsoever, over that plot of land,” he said on Facebook.

The eviction drive in Barpeta took place a week after similar administrative action in the Nagaon district. Authorities in Nagaon carried out the drive in four villages to clear plots of government land of alleged encroachment.

During another eviction drive in Nagaon on September 23 last year, two locals, including a 12-year-old child, were killed in police firing. One of the victims, Moinul Haque, 28, was shot in the chest as he rushed towards a group of policemen and was trampled on by a government photographer.