Remember the Dholpur evictions? Dholpur is a village in Assam’s Sipajhar. On September 20 and 23 last year, the BJP-government of Assam, led by chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma took a decisive step and decided to evict the illegal encroachers who were occupying government land meant for an organic farm project that would provide employment to the indigenous people of Assam. However, the eviction drive had turned violent when thousands of illegal encroachers attacked government officials and the police with spears, machetes, knives, and other locally available weapons. The resultant pushback by the police ended up in the deaths of two people and left several injured on both sides.
According to Assam’s chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the Popular Front of India (PFI) – an extremist Islamist organization may have been behind the attack. Over 1,000 families were evicted from Dholpur in eviction drives in September 2021. According to government figures, 1,418 houses, 48 shops and three mosques were removed as part of the drives.
Assam Government Takes the Next Step
The Dholpur evictions had caused widespread outrage. The usual suspects came out firing heavy-duty words at the Himanta Biswa Sarma-led government, accusing it of being anti-Muslim and fascistic. However, that has not stopped the BJP government of Assam from doing the right thing.
The Assam government is planning to relocate 2,051 families, which were displaced during the Dholpur eviction drive in Darrang district last year, to another area in the same district. According to the minutes of an official meeting held on January 31, which was attended by the local MLA, police, and district administration officials as well as members of the All-Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU), the families will be shifted to Dalgaon in phases.
The Indian Express reported that in the first phase of the relocation process, 423 families living in Niz-Salmara, and Dholpur-1 areas will be shifted, while 210 families who have already left Garukhuti will be rehabilitated immediately afterwards. Meanwhile, sending out a stern warning to Islamists, Darrang’s deputy commissioner said that strict action would be taken if any person tried to “jeopardise the entire process”.
State Minister Pijush Hazarika, who chaired an earlier meeting with AAMSU on the rehabilitation, said, “The district administration will aid the process and it will likely begin this month itself.”
Identification of Illegal Bangladeshis after Rehabilitation?
It must be remembered that all those evicted from Dholpur last year were Bengali-speaking Muslims. That effectively means that those evicted can very well be illegal Bangladeshi infiltrators. In fact, the BJP government went ahead with the evictions in the first place only after it was assured that there were many illegal immigrants among those encroaching the government land at Dholpur.
Once those evicted are properly rehabilitated, the BJP government of Assam can initiate the process of identifying genuine Indian citizens from the lot, if any, and separating them from illegal Bangladeshi infiltrators. Assam has had enough of illegal Bangladeshis eating into the state’s resources, and Himanta Biswa Sarma’s government is committed to deporting all such infiltrators as soon as possible.
Assam’s problem with immigration and encroachment precedes India’s independence. After the unfortunate division of India, it just got exponentially exacerbated. As illegal immigrants flocked to Assam, they started looking for lands to settle in. Since they used to move in large numbers, it became tough for any individual to oppose them. Slowly, they harped on the infamous ‘land-jihad’ strategy. Illegal immigration was so much in focus, that the resultant land-jihad did not come to the limelight until the Assam assembly elections of 2021.
Union Home minister Amit Shah had promised to tackle the problem of illegal immigration and land-grabbing by infiltrators in Assam if the BJP government were to take charge once again. After coming to power, Himanta Biswa Sarma started a drive against this menace and freed 1000s of bighas of land in districts like Hojai, Karimganj and Darrai.