Guwahati: Various political parties and organizations on Friday strongly criticized Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma-led BJP government for the escalating tensions and protests surrounding the eviction drive at Silsako Beel in Guwahati.
Women took to the streets, staging a semi-nude protest against the eviction drive, as heavy machinery demolished several houses in an effort to clear land allegedly encroached upon in the wetland area.
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma defended the administration’s actions, citing consultations with locals and the promise of compensation for eligible individuals.
“After three days of discussion with the public and informed consent, the eviction was carried out. The district commissioner had detailed the compensation to be provided, and we are committed to constructing flats for those displaced from their land,” Sarma told reporters in Nagaon.
As the police and civil administration arrived to initiate the eviction, local residents voiced their dissent.
When two women stripped down to their undergarments as a form of protest, policewomen quickly intervened to cover them and removed them from the scene, alongside several other protestors.
Pokhila Tamuli, a resident, said, “At least 25 people were detained by police officers during the protest. It feels like the ruling party is indifferent to our plight. Is it fair that some houses are demolished while others are not? We will continue to protest until our land rights are restored.”
Manoj Kumar Sharma, another resident, said that police presence had been maintained in the area since the previous night, anticipating the unrest that transpired that day.
The protest gained intensity as villagers, frustrated with the eviction drive, demolished six to seven walls beginning at 7:00 a.m., underscoring their determination to resist displacement.
Meira Barthakur Goswami, president of Assam Pradesh Mahila Congress, said, “It is unfortunate that such a semi-nude protest had to take place in Assam for the first time. The people feel they have no other option but to protest.”
Anusuchita Jati Yuba Chatra Parishad Assam (AJYCPA) expressed its strong disapproval of the actions of the Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma-led BJP government, characterizing it as authoritarian.
“We are shocked by the semi-nude protest. Women are resorting to such measures due to their desperate struggle for land rights. We condemn this situation,” said AJYCPA president Rubul Das.
Das further said, “Most of those affected belong to various Assamese communities like Bodo, Mising, Karbi, Ahom, and Bishnupriya Manipuri. Eviction without proper rehabilitation is inhumane.”
Lurinjyoti Gogoi, Chief of the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP), expressed shock and distress over the protest, highlighting the growing concerns about the safety of women under the BJP’s rule.
Rudrangkur Hazarika, President of the youth wing of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), argued that the women had resorted to such measures to draw attention to their plight, alleging that the government had been unresponsive to their concerns.
“The government has failed to address the people’s problems, leaving women with no choice but to resort to extreme measures to garner attention,” Hazarika said.
Assam Trinamool Congress spokesperson Dilip Sarma criticized the Assam government, saying, “The BJP had promised to protect the land of indigenous people, but now, Assamese women are being forced to disrobe and protest against the government.”
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