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Eviction from national park: One more dies as Assam families continue protest

As the government seeks to evict the families from the national park, over 2,000 of their members have been staging a protest from a makeshift camp near the office of Tinsukia District Magistrate

Published: 15th January 2021 07:54 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th January 2021 07:54 PM   |  A+A-

Dead body, Death

For representational purposes

By Express News Service

GUWAHATI: One more protester from Laika-Dadhia area of Dibru-Saikhowa National Park in Assam’s Tinsukia district died as the stalemate over the rehabilitation of over 1,500 ST and OBC families continues.

A sick Bolen Dang (70) died after returning to her village from the site of protest in Tinsukia on Thursday. Earlier, two other protestors, including a pregnant woman, had died.

As the government seeks to evict the families from the national park, over 2,000 of their members have been staging a protest from a makeshift camp near the office of Tinsukia District Magistrate since December 21 last year.

They were settled in Laika-Dadhia, which has seven villages, after the great earthquake of 1950 and long before Dibru-Saikhowa was first declared a wildlife sanctuary and then a national park.

The state government has decided to rehabilitate them in Tinsukia and Lakhimpur districts. As per the decision, the villagers of Laika will be rehabilitated in the degraded reserve forest areas of Paharpur, Saleki and Namphai of Digboi forest division in Tinsukia and those from Dadhia will be resettled in Adakhana area of Pabha reserve forest of Lakhimpur forest division in Lakhimpur district.

The protestors are livid with the government for two reasons. They say the proposed sites of resettlement are flood-affected. Secondly, they stand opposed to the “division of the families” as they will be resettled in two districts.

“We said we don’t mind if we are resettled at Oguri in Tinsukia district. But the government wants to settle us in some flood-affected areas. We are not going to go there,” said Jyotish Patir, a local.

He said a committee, constituted by the government, could not yet address the concerns of the families.

“As election is coming up, some politicians are trying to divide us. We have lived together for generations and we can continue to live like that if rehabilitated at Oguri,” Patir added.

Recently, Congress leader Debabrata Saikia had petitioned the National Human Rights Commission alleging gross injustice being done to these families. He said the government was seeking to evict the families by going back on its promises that they would be suitably rehabilitated. He said many protesters were suffering from fever and nose-bleed after failing to bear the harsh winter chill.
 



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