September 26, 2023
In Sep 2021, the Assam government forcibly cleared 607 hectares of khas mati (govt land) in Darrang’s riverine char areas to set up the Gorukhuti Multipurpose Agricultural Project, a state farming project. It was dubbed as the “dream project” of CM Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Public outcry had forced the state to announce resettlement. But two years later, as the dream project fails, thousands of evicted Bengali-speaking Muslim farmers languish in squalid temporary shelters awaiting the promised land.
In Feb 2022, district officials surveyed and announced that 2,051 families would be allotted one bigha land each. A year later, in Jan 2023, the Gauhati HC was told that 600 families were resettled on govt land, and 100 more were left.
The government had lied in court.
On the ground, the claims are contested on two grounds: those evicted in Sept 2021, around 800 families, still live in temporary shelters; and those resettled were part of larger count of 2,051 families that left on promise of land allotment by district authorities.
Majority of those who the authorities claim to have rehabilitated, like Subur Uddin, received only half a bigha of land. They were given tokens as proof of “resettlement”. Revenue officials admit that these tokens hold no legal validity.
Tokens given to those who hadn't yet been resettled, even to those displaced before. Asir Uddin's family had lost their land to #rivererosion before settling in Dhalpur. Policy failures to address erosion-led displacement and provide compensation magnify their suffering.
Human rights researcher @abdulkazad says, “The govt doesn’t take appropriate action to rehabilitate the victims of erosion when they get displaced. They are forced to settle on govt land. Then the govt uses hostile policies to evict them."
The Gorukhuti Multipurpose Agricultural Project, projected as a model farming initiative, has failed to deliver on its promises. Despite significant investment, the project’s earnings have been meagre, leading to questions about its viability.
Aminul Islam, an AIUDF MLA, pointed out that the project’s “own data show that nearly Rs. 10 crore was invested and it could not even earn Rs. 2 crore.”
“It is a complete failure,” he says, while alleging a sinister “communal agenda” behind the project.
Evicted farmers claim they're promised work, but instead faced "hateful eviction"
Justice eludes victims. Moinal Haque’s widow, Mamata Begum, struggles to feed her children & seek justice for her husband. She and thousands of others wait for govt to fulfil its promises.