Eviction in Karbi Anglong's Sarke Basti Leaves 2,700 People Homeless in Assam

Reported by

Ankur PhukanLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

May 14, 2021

Location of Conflict

Sarke Basti

Hojai

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Border Dispute

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

2700

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

ha

Starting Year

2019

State

Assam

Sector

Land Use

In the first week of March 2019, the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) carried out an eviction drive in the Sarke Basti area located on the border of East Karbi Anglong and Hojai districts. The Karbi Anglong district administration claimed that the entire evicted area falls under its jurisdiction and that the people living there were "encroachers". However, the people questioned the validity of the eviction, stating that their area fell under the jurisdiction of Hojai district and not KAAC.        The eviction came in the face of a longstanding border dispute between Karbi Anglong and Hojai. Over 600 families were evicted and 2,700 people were rendered homeless. Kulsum Begum, a heavily pregnant woman, was forcibly dragged out of her home, physically assaulted by the police and paramilitary forces and was later deprived of urgent medical aid. She went into labour and gave birth under the open sky. She succumbed to her injuries on March 11. The Karbi Anglong administration claims that the border areas constitute a reserved forest, while the Hojai administration claims these are villages mapped by the district revenue department.  Tuliram Ronghang, chief executive member of the KAAC, alleged that the families were undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh who had been living on the land belonging to Karbi Anglong. The families refute the allegations, saying that they are residents of Hojai and Indian citizens.          According to local people, the claims to the disputed area between Karbi Anglong and Hojai have been a cause of concern between the two regions for some time and that the KAAC had attempted many eviction drives in the area previously. But the eviction drive in March 2019 was more systematic and violent. Security forces torched houses and also demolished Chudhury Para Primary School, the only school in the area. On March 8, 2019, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti's Hojai district committee staged a protest in the area demanding a judicial stay against eviction drives until the boundary of the two districts is finalised. But the police, army and paramilitary forces attacked unarmed protesters to disperse them. They resorted to lathicharge, which left more than 30 people injured. Some residents claimed that civilians from Karbi Anglong district also took part in the violence. The protesters condoned the inaction of the Hojai district administration even as both the district authorities are in negotiation for resolving the longstanding border dispute. The matter is currently pending in the Gauhati High Court. Several news reports claim that evictions have been a weaponised effort against Assam's Bengali Muslim population.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for legal recognition of land rights, Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Resolution of border dispute

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Case Laws, Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws, Constitutional Law

Legislations/Policies Involved

  1. Indian Forest Act, 1927

    Section 4: [Power to reserve forests]

  2. Noor Hassan vs Deepak Rawat ( S.L.P. (C) 30026– 30027/2018 )

    Protocol must be followed before an eviction, including hearing the parties and issuing notice

  3. The Constitution of India, 1950

    Article 300A: [Persons not to be deprived of property save by authority of law]

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

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:

Lack of legal protection over land rights, Land-record discrepancies , Forced evictions/ Dispossession of Land

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Gauhati High Court

Case Number

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Physical attack, Torching of houses, Lathi charge/tear gas/pellets

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?

Reported Details of the Violation:

A heavily pregnant woman named Kulsuma Begum was forcefully dragged out of her house and physically assaulted by the police and paramilitary forces. She was left bleeding out in the open and gave birth to a boy, but she succumbed to her injuries on March 11. Security forces also torched houses and demolished Chudhury Para Primary School, the only school in the area. On March 8, police, army and paramilitary forces attacked unarmed protesters to disperse them. They resorted to lathicharge, which left more than 30 people injured.

Date of Violation

March 2, 2019

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Complaints, petitions, memorandums to officials , Protests/marches

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Karbi Anglong Autonomus Council, Hojai District Administration

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

No

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

No

Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
No Images Available

Documented By

Ankur Phukan

Reviewed By

Ankur Phukan

Updated By

Ankur Phukan

Edited By

Ankur PhukanLand Conflict Watch
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