Assam eviction drive will continue, says CM days after Gauhati HC pulled up state government
On Tuesday, the Assam government told the Gauhati HC that it would take action against police officers who illegally demolished five homes in Nagaon district.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday said that the state government will continue the eviction drive in Batadraba town of Nagaon district, reported IANS.
In December, the Nagaon district administration had started a large-scale eviction drive in four villages to clear plots of government land of alleged encroachment.
Sarma’s comments came two days after the Gauhati High Court on Tuesday asked the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state to submit a report on the action taken against police officers who had, in May, demolished the homes of five persons who allegedly set a police station on fire in Nagaon district.
“Our government has done many such exercises in the state within the boundaries of the law,” Sarma told reporters on Thursday. “However, in the Nagaon police station case, the superintendent of police admitted before the court that there were some mistakes while carrying out actions. It may happen sometime, and we should rectify our faults.”
The chief minister added that the government will not halt the eviction exercise due to the faulty action of some officials. “Wherever any illegal encroachment is found, we will do an eviction,” Sarma said. “This government is not here to sit idle. For 365 days up to five years, we will continue our work.”
At Tuesday’s hearing, the Gauhati High Court had also directed the state government to compensate the persons whose homes were demolished by the police.
On May 21, a mob had torched the Batadrava police station in Nagaon, a day after a fish trader, Safikul Islam, was allegedly killed in custody. Islam’s family had alleged that the police demanded Rs 10,000 and a duck as a bribe to release him.
A day after the police station was burnt down, the police had demolished the homes of the five accused men. One of the men accused in the case of torching the police station, Ashikul Islam, had died in a road accident after he allegedly tried to escape police custody on May 30.
In November, the division bench of Gauhati High Court comprising Chief Justice RM Chhaya and Justice Soumitra Saikia, took up a suo motu public interest litigation pertaining to the matter. It had said that there was no provision under any criminal law to use excavators and bulldozers to demolish houses “in the guise of investigation”.