SILCHAR: The All India Kishan Sabha (AIKS) organized a protest demonstration before the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar here on Saturday against the eviction drive in Howaithang reserve forest of Cachar on June 7 in which 82 families, poor and daily wage earners, were rendered homeless and shelterless. They have been reportedly living there for the last 40 years. AIKS leaders described the eviction drive as most inhuman as 15 pachyderms were deployed to demolish the houses of these unfortunate victims.
They have been forced to spend their days with kids under open sky, half fed and almost penniless. Later, a memorandum was submitted to the Deputy Commissioner. Many of them have fallen sick without any medical care and attention. Till date, no relief has been arranged for these homeless people.
According to Sahab Uddin Barbhuiya, they have sold out their paternal properties for their living due to extreme poverty and taken shelter in reserve forest. They have built their homes and found out means for their survival against all adversities. Rezamond Ali, AIKS leader, claimed their names are on NRC and voters’ lists and even have been voting in panchayat, Assembly and parliamentary elections.
Ten families among them have Indira Awas Yojana. All the houses are connected with electricity under APL and BPL categories. Ring well has been constructed for making available safe drinking water. Many have Job Cards, Anna Suraksha Card, age old pension.
These families are also covered under Ujjawla Yojana. MNREGA has provided them contract work. Interestingly, the memorandum expresses gratitude to the present Forest Minister of Assam and the Dholai gaon panchayat for extending many a benefit of State and Central schemes. AIKS has appreciated the efforts of these victims of eviction for maintaining ecological balance by planting fruit trees and green vegetation around their dwelling houses. They used to eke out their living by selling green vegetables and fruits. The Sabha has called upon the authorities concerned to adopt the human policy of ‘save forest and save peasants.’ AIKS is now worried to know that the Forest Department has planned to evict all encroachers from other reserve forests. Forests and greenery have to be saved, there can be no argument. But, the state should also think of relief and rehabilitation package for those thrown out of their years of settlement in reserve forests. The fault lies with those who have allowed them to settle down and used them as vote-bank.