Freeing Xatra Land
As opposed to the eviction of poachers from the Kaziranga tiol Park (KNP) on September 20—an exercise that left two persons dead in police firing—the State government was able to quietly free land belonging to the Dakshinpatra Xatra Shanti Ashram in Guwahati from encroachers. Freeing encroached xatra land was a pre-poll promise of the ruling BJP, and it was backed by the party’s executive in Rangiya. What is heartening is that instead of being worried by some public criticism of the evictions carried out in KMP, the State government made it abundantly clear that it would not stop its drive against encroachers. The drive to free 28 bighas of land belonging to the Ashram at Geeta gar in Guwahati was conducted smoothly by the Kamrup (Metro) district administration and the police. In doing so, they had to evict 33 families living on the land.
This should be the beginning of evicting all land in Assam encroached mainly by foreign tiols from Bangladesh. There is need for a special emphasis on vacating encroached xatra land for at least two reasons. In the first place, there is bound to be less resistance to such evictions due to religious reasons. And if the eviction from xatra land can be done painlessly because the poachers themselves realize their folly and vacate such encroachment without any fuss, the eviction of poachers from other lands might follow as a tural consequence without a great deal of protest. Secondly, 7,000 bighas of such land have been illegally occupied by poachers, and the State government cannot afford to overlook such large-scale encroachment. As such, making the eviction of xatra land a priority might be a sensible decision.