Amid eviction unrest, Assam government starts farm project

All India Kisan Sabha delegates to visit Sipajhar area where police killed two persons

September 27, 2021 04:03 am | Updated 04:03 am IST - GUWAHATI

Darrang: People search for their belongings after their houses were demolished during an eviction drive, in Darrang district, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021.

Darrang: People search for their belongings after their houses were demolished during an eviction drive, in Darrang district, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021.

Less than 48 hours after an eviction drive led to the death of two persons including a minor in police firing, the Assam government has begun its ambitious farm project in areas freed from the settlers.

Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Padma Hazarika, who heads the committee set up for implementing the government’s Gorukhuti farming project, said seeds of various crops have been sown in 4,000 bighas of land made encroachment-free.

“We have begun with black gram, coriander and spinach. We intend to extend the cultivated area to 10,000 bighas soon,” he told The Hindu from Darrang district’s Gorukhuti, about 60 km northeast of Guwahati.

He said the Gorukhuti project will not be restricted to Dhalpur No 1, Dhalpur No 2 and Dhalpur No 3 areas. Dhalpur 3 was where two Bengali-speaking Muslims were shot dead by the police on September 23 during an eviction drive that turned violent.

The Gorukhuti project, carried out under police protection, entails farming for indigenous youths on 77,000 bighas of land that the government claims had been taken over by “illegal migrants”.

Projected as outsiders

The settlers said the BJP-led government has been legitimising the eviction drive by portraying them as Bangladeshis despite documents showing they are Indians who have been living in the area for decades.

Gorukhuti derived its name from a bamboo spike at the end of a rope used by cowherds to let a cow graze on a leash. Locals say the encroached land used to be government-notified grazing land for their cattle.

Meanwhile, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has decided to send a team to Assam for visiting the Dhalpur area where the “BJP government killed poor, landless farmers”. The delegation is expected to visit the place on October 4.

“We protest the State-sponsored violence aimed at communal polarisation and demand the resignation of Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma,” AIKS president Ashok Dhawale said.

“If the State government was actually promoting a policy of community farming, it could have involved the 800 families who were cultivating the area for decades instead of evicting them and destroying their religious structures,” he said.

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