The Gauhati High Court has sought a detailed affidavit from the Assam government on the recent evictions carried out in the Darrang district. The case will be next heard on November 3 by a division bench of Chief Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Justice Soumitra Sakia.
The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Debabrata Saikia, the Leader of Opposition in Assam Assembly, against the ‘forced evictions’ that have been carried by the ruling BJP government.
On September 20, the Darrang district authorities began evictions at four places in Dhalpur, about 9 km from Sipajhar, and nearly 800 families – most of whom were Bengali-speaking Muslims – were removed from 4,500 bighas of land the government claimed ownership for.
There was, however a clash between alleged encroachers and police on September 23 when another team had come to evict at least two locations in Dholpur when at least two persons, including a minor, died of bullet wounds and at least 20 others from both sides were injured.
The High Court termed the clashes as a ‘big tragedy’. “This is a big tragedy. Those who are guilty, if at all, must be punished. Not just in this but in one or two other incidents as well,” the Bench remarked.
“Khoon zameen pe gir gaya (blood has been spilled),” the chief justice said during the hearing.
The court has also ordered a judicial inquiry into the violence that happened during the eviction. The inquiry will be conducted by former Gauhati High Court judge Justice BD Agarwala.