The Hindu (Mumbai)

10,000 in Assam face eviction from tribal council lands

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Assam Revenue Minister Jogen Mohan on Friday defended a tribal council’s plan to evict about 10,000 people from areas designated as profession­al grazing reserves (PGR) and village grazing reserves (VGR).

The move by the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) to evict 2,086 families of “illegal settlers” sparked unrest, leading to the injury of 11 people and the arrest of 17 a week ago.

Citing precedents dating back to 1933 when the PGR was conceived, Mr. Mohan told the 126member Assam Assembly that alleged illegal settlement led to the council’s decision to free the “occupied” lands.

He was replying to the concerns raised by Congress MLA Debabrata Saikia, also the Leader of the Opposition. “The eviction notices have affected some 10,000 people, many of whom have certificat­es proving residency since 1940 and are included in the updated National Register of Citizens. They face an uncertain future after being told to vacate the land they have called home for decades,” he said.

The genesis of the trouble is said to be a memorandum submitted by an organisati­on of the Hindispeak­ing Nonia community in January, seeking the legalisati­on of the settlers on PGR and VGR lands in West Karbi Anglong district.

The KAAC administer­s the tribalmajo­rity Karbi Anglong and West Karbi Anglong districts, both under the Sixth Schedule of the Constituti­on.

Protest by tribal organisati­ons

While the KAAC has been working on the eviction, the issue reached a flashpoint on February 15 when members of two tribal organisati­ons — Karbi Students’ Associatio­n and Autonomous State Demand Committee Youth Front — staged a protest demanding the eviction of settlers from the VGR and PGR lands in Hawaipur and Phuloniare­a. The protests led to clashes between the members of these organisati­ons and the settlers.

The KAAC’s chief executive member, Tuliram Ronghang, said the council resolved to evict the settlers “in line with a Supreme Court order” and the Karbi Anglong (Land & Revenue) Act of 1953 in exercise of powers conferred under a relevant clause of the Sixth Schedule.

“The officials concerned have been asked to take necessary steps to evict the unauthoris­ed occupants of the PGR and VGR lands,” he said.

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