JOIN THE LCW
COMMUNITY

Exclusive monthly policy briefs, stories from the ground, quarterly analytics report, curated expert talks, merchandise and much more. Support our work!

Sign up today

Eviction drive on railway lands in Digboi leaves several families homeless in Assam

Reported by

East Street Journal Asia

Legal Review by

Anmol Gupta, Mukta Joshi

Edited by

Radhika Chatterjee, Anupa Sagar Kujur

Updated by

Mahesh Deka

Published on

April 18, 2023

February 23, 2024

Edited on

February 23, 2024

April 18, 2023

State

Assam

Sector

Infrastructure

People Affected by Conflict

Households Affected by Conflict

170

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

ha

Starting Year

2023

Location of Conflict

Digboi

Bogapani and Tingrai

Tinsukia

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Railways

Land Conflict Summary

On February 15, officials of Tinksukia district administration along with Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) officials, Central Reserved Police Forces (CRPF), and paramilitary forces carried out multiple eviction drives in the Bogapani area of Digboi to clear Northeast Frontier Railways' (NFR's) land from encroachments.

Railway authorities demolished schools, shops, and houses. For houses that were located on Forest Land, eviction was conducted by officials of the Forest Department. During the drive a resident even begged on his knees to plead with the forest authorities to stop the eviction, as the children were appearing for their board examinations during the drive.

Officials said the eviction drive was carried out to make government land encroachment-free, and to facilitate NFR's electrification work from Bogapani to Makum. Students who are appearing for their examinations protested by studying under candlelights in the streets. Police and paramilitary force leading the drive lathi-charged alleged protestors for opposing the eviction. 

Several locals were hurt amidst the altercation with the police and security forces, according to sources. However, according to Debajyoti Dutta, the officer in charge of Digboi police station, lathi-charge did not occur, rather the police had to push back the protesters as they tried to stop the NFR's eviction drive.

Affected houses were reduced to ruins in the drive. A few residents of the area who had approached the district court about the evictions, brought a stay order from the court for till March 15. Barring the houses which had received the stay order, the district authorities proceeded with evicting other houses.

Speaking to the media, one protestors said, "As you can see, it is so unfortunate that the students appearing for their board exams are protesting here and there is chaos among these families. We demand the government create a healthy environment for students to study and prepare for their exams."

NFR officials stated that they've been trying to clear the area for the past 10 years. NFR CPRO, Sabyasachi De has said eviction drives on railways will continue till all encroachments are removed from them.

The district administration, however, assured the evicted families of rehabilitation and compensation. Meanwhile, Digboi MLA Suren Phuken said he distributed Rs 25,000 each to the evicted families, who were eligible for a compensation.

A year after the eviction, however, some of the affected families claim they are yet to receive the Rs 25,000 compensation and the promised land for rehabilitation. According to residents, most of the evicted families have rebuilt their homes on the evicted land.

Phukan, however, claimed the administration has identified land for eligible families in the Ram Nagar area in Digboi. “Land for over 20 families is identified and will be officially handed over soon,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Forest Department has erected fencing to demarcate the boundary of the forest land in the evicted area.

Fact Sheet

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Complaint against procedural violations

Demand for rehabilitation

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Resettlement of the affected families

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land), Forest

What was the action taken by the police?

How many people did the police detain or arrest?

What is the current status of the detained/accused persons?

Did the person face any violence while in police custody?

Did the person face any violence while in police custody?

If any arrests took place, were the accused persons produced before a judge within 24 hours of the arrest?

If the accused was not produced before a magistrate within 24 hours, or not produced at all, what were the reasons?

Legislation under which the accused was charged

Was the accused person informed of their right to legal representation? Did the accused person have access to legal aid?

In cases where the accused person approached the court for bail, was bail granted?

Why was bail granted or rejected? If granted, what were the bail conditions and quantum of bail?

Were there any other notable irregularities that took place, or other significant details?

Details of sources (names of accused, names and numbers of any lawyers, names of any police officers contacted)

Status of Project

Original Project Deadline

Whether the Project has been Delayed

Significance of Land to Land Owners/Users

Residential area, Non-agri rural enterprise, Government or community-regulated urban commons

Whether the project was stalled due to land conflict

Source/Reference

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Legal Data

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Indian Railways Works Manual, 2000, issued by Ministry of Railways, Government of India
Clause 814 [Indian railways have the power to remove new encroachments over railway land under Section 147 of Railway Act 1989. For old encroachments, the provisions of Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971 ought to apply.]
Railways Act, 1989
Section 147 [Provision which criminalizes trespass over railways property. Railways officials have the power to remove any person liable under this provision.]
Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971
The High Court in the case had directed that before any eviction, the relevant authority must identify evictees eligible for relocation and rehabilitation. The state authorities must also ensure that basic civic liberties are ensured at the site of relocation. The Supreme Court confirmed this decision and stated that the directions passed in the High Court judgment must be complied with precisely.
Sudama Singh v. Deepak Mohan Spolia (C.A. No(s). 21806-21807/2017, Supreme Court)
The High Court in the case had directed that before any eviction, the relevant authority must identify evictees eligible for relocation and rehabilitation. The state authorities must also ensure that basic civic liberties are ensured at the site of relocation. The Supreme Court confirmed this decision and stated that the directions passed in the High Court judgment must be complied with precisely.
Report of the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, A/HRC/RES/43/14, dated July 6, 2020
The Guidelines state that the government must provide just compensation and sufficient accommodation to evictees immediately. At a minimum, the government must provide access to basic facilities such as food, water, and shelter, among others.
  1. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  2. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  3. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  4. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  5. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  6. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  7. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

No

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Forced evictions/dispossession of land

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

No

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Case Number

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Lathicharge/teargas/pellets

Displacement

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

No

Reported Details of the Violation:

Lathicharge was used during the eviction drive, leading to the displacement of people whose settlements were removed.

Date of Violation

March 14, 2023

Location of Violation

Between Bongapani and Tingrai Railway station

Additional Information

Nature of Protest

Protests/marches

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Campaigns (grassroots organisations/press releases/media)

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Deputy commissioner (Tinsukia district), North East Frontier Railway Tinsukia Division, North East Frontier Railway Maligaon

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Information on the use of criminal law

What was the action taken by the police?

How many people did the police detain or arrest?

What is the current status of the detained/accused persons?

Did the person face any violence while in police custody?

If any arrests took place, were the accused persons produced before a judge within 24 hours of the arrest?

If the accused was not produced before a magistrate within 24 hours, or not produced at all, what were the reasons?

Legislation under which the accused was charged

Was the accused person informed of their right to legal representation? Did the accused person have access to legal aid?

In cases where the accused person approached the court for bail, was bail granted?

Why was bail granted or rejected? If granted, what were the bail conditions and quantum of bail?

Were there any other notable irregularities that took place, or other significant details?

Resources

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Images

Image Credit:  

Image Credit:  

Video

On February 15, officials of Tinksukia district administration along with Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) officials, Central Reserved Police Forces (CRPF), and paramilitary forces carried out multiple eviction drives in the Bogapani area of Digboi to clear Northeast Frontier Railways' (NFR's) land from encroachments.

Railway authorities demolished schools, shops, and houses. For houses that were located on Forest Land, eviction was conducted by officials of the Forest Department. During the drive a resident even begged on his knees to plead with the forest authorities to stop the eviction, as the children were appearing for their board examinations during the drive.

Officials said the eviction drive was carried out to make government land encroachment-free, and to facilitate NFR's electrification work from Bogapani to Makum. Students who are appearing for their examinations protested by studying under candlelights in the streets. Police and paramilitary force leading the drive lathi-charged alleged protestors for opposing the eviction. 

Several locals were hurt amidst the altercation with the police and security forces, according to sources. However, according to Debajyoti Dutta, the officer in charge of Digboi police station, lathi-charge did not occur, rather the police had to push back the protesters as they tried to stop the NFR's eviction drive.

Affected houses were reduced to ruins in the drive. A few residents of the area who had approached the district court about the evictions, brought a stay order from the court for till March 15. Barring the houses which had received the stay order, the district authorities proceeded with evicting other houses.

Speaking to the media, one protestors said, "As you can see, it is so unfortunate that the students appearing for their board exams are protesting here and there is chaos among these families. We demand the government create a healthy environment for students to study and prepare for their exams."

NFR officials stated that they've been trying to clear the area for the past 10 years. NFR CPRO, Sabyasachi De has said eviction drives on railways will continue till all encroachments are removed from them.

The district administration, however, assured the evicted families of rehabilitation and compensation. Meanwhile, Digboi MLA Suren Phuken said he distributed Rs 25,000 each to the evicted families, who were eligible for a compensation.

A year after the eviction, however, some of the affected families claim they are yet to receive the Rs 25,000 compensation and the promised land for rehabilitation. According to residents, most of the evicted families have rebuilt their homes on the evicted land.

Phukan, however, claimed the administration has identified land for eligible families in the Ram Nagar area in Digboi. “Land for over 20 families is identified and will be officially handed over soon,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Forest Department has erected fencing to demarcate the boundary of the forest land in the evicted area.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Complaint against procedural violations

Demand for rehabilitation

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Resettlement of the affected families

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land), Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Indian Railways Works Manual, 2000, issued by Ministry of Railways, Government of India
Clause 814 [Indian railways have the power to remove new encroachments over railway land under Section 147 of Railway Act 1989. For old encroachments, the provisions of Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971 ought to apply.]
Railways Act, 1989
Section 147 [Provision which criminalizes trespass over railways property. Railways officials have the power to remove any person liable under this provision.]
Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971
The High Court in the case had directed that before any eviction, the relevant authority must identify evictees eligible for relocation and rehabilitation. The state authorities must also ensure that basic civic liberties are ensured at the site of relocation. The Supreme Court confirmed this decision and stated that the directions passed in the High Court judgment must be complied with precisely.
Sudama Singh v. Deepak Mohan Spolia (C.A. No(s). 21806-21807/2017, Supreme Court)
The High Court in the case had directed that before any eviction, the relevant authority must identify evictees eligible for relocation and rehabilitation. The state authorities must also ensure that basic civic liberties are ensured at the site of relocation. The Supreme Court confirmed this decision and stated that the directions passed in the High Court judgment must be complied with precisely.
Report of the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, A/HRC/RES/43/14, dated July 6, 2020
The Guidelines state that the government must provide just compensation and sufficient accommodation to evictees immediately. At a minimum, the government must provide access to basic facilities such as food, water, and shelter, among others.
  1. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  2. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  3. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  4. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  5. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  6. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  7. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

No

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Forced evictions/dispossession of land

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

No

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Case Number

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Lathicharge/teargas/pellets

Displacement

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

No

Reported Details of the Violation:

Lathicharge was used during the eviction drive, leading to the displacement of people whose settlements were removed.

Date of Violation

March 14, 2023

Location of Violation

Between Bongapani and Tingrai Railway station

Nature of Protest

Protests/marches

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Campaigns (grassroots organisations/press releases/media)

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Deputy commissioner (Tinsukia district), North East Frontier Railway Tinsukia Division, North East Frontier Railway Maligaon

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Our phone calls to the Deputy Commissioner's office in Tinsukia went unanswered.

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

Image Credit:  

Documented By

Text Link

Reviewed By

Text Link

Updated By

Text Link

Edited By

Text LinkLand Conflict Watch

Other Land Conflicts in Assam

cross
Not a member yet?
Sign up now