In Assam – the fortunes of opposition parties like Congress and AIUDF are about to take a downward turn. Already reeling under the intense stress of having lost the recent state assembly elections, these parties are now also being snatched of their minority vote banks. Both the Congress and AIUDF rely on the minority vote in Assam since the Hindus have been voting for the BJP since 2016. In its election manifesto, the BJP had promised to constitute a task force to remove illegal encroachments and recover lands of Satras, which are monasteries associated with the Ekasarana tradition of Vaishnavism.
Earlier this month, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said that the state government was committed and would take all steps to protect the state’s land, identity, culture, language and heritage from aggressors and illegal migrants. Now, Environment and Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya has said that the Assam government has cleared over 3,400 hectares of forest land of encroachments from 2016-2020. A total of 915.05 hectares of land have been cleared of encroachment between April and June 23 this year, he said.
The Minister added that the Assam Forest Department has destroyed 2,960 illegal structures in reserve forests, wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and other protected areas and arrested 194 people between 2016 and 2020. “We have adopted a zero-tolerance policy towards encroachments in protected areas and stringent legal action is being taken against offenders,” Suklabaidya said.
Assam govt has Cleared over 3200 hectare of Forest Land, Wildlife Sanctuaries, National Parks, and other Protected areas from Encroachments; 2960 illegal Structures Demolished and 194 Persons Arrested
— Megh Updates 🚨 (@MeghUpdates) June 27, 2021
According to PTI, to ascertain the exact figure of forest land that is under encroachment, Divisional Forest Officers (DFO) have been asked to submit reports on encroachments in their respective areas. In 2019, the Assam government under then Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had stated that 3.87 lakh hectares of forest land are under encroachment in the state.
These land encroachers are mostly illegal Bangladeshis who somehow enter the country and make their way into the voter base. They then vote for parties like the Congress and AIUDF – who let them occupy vast swathes of land in exchange for their continuous votes. This has been going on for years on end, but with the BJP government led by Himanta Biswa Sarma firmly in place, such comforts are being snatched away from the illegal Bangladeshis and land encroachers.
Illegal encroachments turn into illegal settlements which then turn into legalised citizens and favoured vote banks. But Himanta’s progressive move is set to ensure that no illegal immigrant takes away the benefits of citizens and the indigenous Assamese people.
The Congress and minority parties have been crying foul since early this month itself. “We will move the high court and the Supreme Court against it. The people who have been evicted by the administration are now totally helpless,” Congress MLA Siddique Ahmed said. The All-Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU) even staged demonstrations across the state to protest the same.
An AAMSU leader said, “This government is a communal government. We want to say to the Assam government – don’t harass the minority people under communal agenda.” Evidently, Himanta Biswa Sarma is hitting the pro-Bangladeshi parties where it hurts them the most.
The point to be noted is “no illegal immigrant take away the benefits of citizens and the indigenous Assamese people” and not just state govt but all legal citizens should support this initiative and fully back the state govt efforts in this regard.