On Monday, we had Tarun Gogoi, former Chief Minister of Assam, making a statement that would hold him guilty of having committed a crimil defiance of the law and of the directive of the Gauhati High Court. Stated in simple terms, this would amount to an admission of what would be regarded as crimil activity open to pel action in the case of anyone who did not happen to be a chief minister of a State. At a press meet held at State Guest House No. 1 on Monday Gogoi made the astounding statement that he had not evicted the illegal encroachers of the Kaziranga tiol Park merely in the interests of the vote bank that these encroachers constituted. He did not talk about an illegal vote bank even though he was well aware of what he was referring to. On Monday, he was really talking about two separate kinds of illegal activity that he was responsible for. One was that despite being aware of the kind of foreign tiols who had encroached on the Kaziranga tiol Park (KNP) and built houses there, he had done nothing as Chief Minister to evict the encroachers. The other was that despite the high court directive he did nothing to vacate the encroachment. As Chief Minister, he really did not need anyone to tell him what his duty was. Nevertheless, the Gauhati High Court’s directive was one to the head of government, and as someone who remained Chief Minister for 15 years it was his sacred duty to his State and his people to ensure that the high court directive on eviction of encroachers from KNP was carried out in letter and spirit. Is he even remotely suggesting that his priorities as Chief Minister lay in protecting his vote bank rather than in protecting the land of his State from encroachers? Does it occur to him that in flouting the Gauhati High Court directive on vacating the KNP land from encroachers he has made himself responsible for committing two illegalities: one in not discharging a normal duty, as head of government, of getting government land cleared of all encroachment, and the other of totally disregarding a high court directive on a matter of vital importance to the State? Perhaps it does not, or perhaps he thought that as Chief Minister of the State he had the freedom to do just what he pleased without regard to the interests of the State and the people and without a care for high court directives. What is significant is that he obliquely brought up the question of tiolity (or sub-tiolity) and wanted to know from Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma whether the claims of tiolity (or sub-tiolity) applied only to Hindus and not to Muslims. What he cleverly sought to obscure was the issue of tiolity when the present State government was dealing with hundreds of poachers who are really from another country.
It is not as though encroachment of government land in Assam by foreign tiols is confined to the Kaziranga tiol Park alone. Such encroachment of government land, especially of tiol parks and game sanctuaries, has been taking place all over Assam. About 7,000 bighas of xattra are also under encroachment, and the Gauhati High Court ruling of 1997 to evict illegal settlers has not yet been implemented. Not only did Tarun Gogoi do nothing at all to vacate encroachment of government land by foreign tiols, but in the case of KNP he even had a road built for the convenience of the encroachers and electricity provided in parts of the encroached area. We congratulate the Sarbanda Sonowal government for getting back about 2,412 bighas of KNP land from the encroachers. Since encroachment of land is rampant all over the State (thanks largely to Chief Ministers like Tarun Gogoi), it is imperative that the eviction of encroachers should be carried out expeditiously in other parts of Assam also. Apart from getting back the land of the State from poachers, the government might partially succeed even in sending some of the illegal migrants from Bangladesh back to their country.