The Gauhati High Court has ordered the Assam government to resettle the families that were evicted during an eviction drive in Dhalpur’s Gorukhuti.
The court made observations while hearing a petition for the resettlement of displaced persons living in Golukti, Darpur, filed by Debabrata Saikia, leader of the opposition in the Assam assembly.
In the eviction drive around 700 families had been evicted during a major drive carried out by the administration against illegal encroachers back in 2021.
Meanwhile, the state government has already taken care of 600 displaced families, however, the Gauhati High Court asked the state government to re-establish the rest of its 100 families and will be now able to approach the Darrang district commissioner to seek resettlement.
In addition, the court ordered the Darrang commissioner to make the necessary resettlement arrangements within the next six months.
In early November 2021, the Assam state government clarified that displaced Gorukhuti families will be resettled in the state's Dhalpur district, provided they have proof of citizenship, aside from a number of other requirements.
In response to a PIL filed by Debabrata Saikia, terming them "encroachers", the state government in an affidavit to Gauhati High Court said that no compensation will be paid to the said individuals.
The affidavit states: Status of erosion-affected and landless persons in their respective places of origin and districts, citizenship rights, and existing rehabilitation policies of the State”.
Kamaljeet Sarma, an officer with the Sipajar Revenue Department representing the Assam government, said residents were trespassers under the rules of the Assam Revenue Code 1886 and "could be evicted at any time." .
“The issue only concerns encroachments and evictions, not land acquisition at all. So issues like resettlement, rehabilitation and compensation under the Land Acquisition Act are irrelevant,” he added
Gauhati High Court has registered Suo Moto PIL after violence during an eviction in Sipajhar. A Supreme Court tribunal, led by Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and Kakheto Sema, gave the government one week to issue a detailed affidavit.
The court observed the state government's assurance that no coercive action would be taken against the remaining invaders and their resettlement, and that they would be persuaded to move to the border area on their own. "Nevertheless, petitioners are free to bring suit before this court if they adopt such measures."
Talha Abdul Rahman, Saikia's lawyer, said, "You cannot kick people out of their homes just because they are a foreigner and later make their rehabilitation dependent on proof of citizenship."
“NRCs are not public and states question the accuracy of his NRC drives. So how does he rely on the same NRC to keep people out?”
According to reports, on September 20 and 23, about 1,200 to 1,400 houses were demolished in Darpur I, II and III villages of Gorukhuti, leaving more than 7,000 people homeless.
After stiff resistance by the locals, in the event, two people were killed in police firing on September 23, 2021, while over 20 people, including policemen, were injured.
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