Assam: As Hindutva strengthens its grip, Muslims lose dignity

Hyderabad: More than a month ago, images of an inhumane eviction drive in Assam’s Darrang district shocked the world, and has received international criticism. However, nothing could deter the right-wing mobs in question, from trespassing against the life, dignity and livelihood of the already economically challenged Muslims in the village of Dhalpur, in the Darrang district of Assam.

“All roads leading to the district have been closed, while school-Anganwadi centres have been converted into pig farms and Mosques in the evicted site have been converted to Hindu Temples,” an Assamese activist Zamser Ali told Siasat.com.

All this and more has been happening while the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in Assam has done nothing to prevent the gross violation of human rights continuing to date.

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The evictions in September

On September 20th, a new round of eviction drives, against court orders started at Dholpur no 1 under the Sipajhar police station of the Darrang district. About 400 financially challenged Muslim families were evicted silently, according to Zamser Ali.

Subsequently, on September 23, the people of Dhalpur staged a demonstration against the illegal and brutal eviction. The leadership of the local people had a discussion with the administration demanding some time to leave their place of habitation and find an alternate settlement for the evicted people.

The negotiation led to nothing as the administration was adamant on the eviction. However, the authorities reportedly gave an assurance that the matter of an alternate settlement would be discussed with the highest authority in the Assam government.

Despite the failure of the negotiation, the local community leaders reportedly declared withdrawal of the demonstration to avoid any “unwanted situation,” Zamser Ali said after talking to locals in the district. He also added that as the locals were leaving the protest site, the Assam police started lathi-charge on the people who were on their way home.

“The police even started to beat the bystanders and the people who were busy dismantling their houses so that they could rebuild their huts in a safe place for a few days, and at that point, the police opened fire on the local Muslim people,” the Assamese activist said narrating the instance of the two people who died on the spot because of police firing, in which 15 people later succumbed to bullet injuries. After the incident received international reactions, the eviction drive was temporarily stopped.

A month of hate and torture; condition of the people of Darrang

Even though the police and district administration put a halt on the eviction drive after September 23, 960 families who were evicted since that date are living in inhumane conditions, Zamser Ali reported. About 6000 people who were evicted and now live under an open roof without any work or income, have been living in Dhalpur for more than a month facing countless sufferings.

“They haven’t been provided a single kilogram of food grains or any medical assistance,” Ali said. More than one thousand people suffer from fever, cold, pneumonia, and abdominal disorders and homelessness just make the situation worse. So far three minor children have reportedly died. “The suffering doesn’t end here. The people are also facing trouble of regular hate, torture, and blockade which restrict movement,” he added.

Dhalpur Blockade

All roads leading towards Dhalpur have been closed. The people of the village are dependent upon Garukhuti bazaar, a nearby bazaar as the only primary health centre and the only higher secondary educational institution for the people.

As a result of the blockade, students and patients of Dhalpur are having to walk 12 to 18 km through fields and roads. However, until now five groups of people from the area were allegedly attacked by trained RSS workers of the Garukhuti agricultural project while passing through the area.

A group have had their motorcycle torched, mobile phones snatched and had been brutally beaten by the right-wing group who have been deputed in the project area by the government itself, Ali said.

School turned into Pig farm, Mosque into Shiva Temple

The Assamese activist reported that there were four primary level schools and four Anganwadi centres in the evicted sites of Dhalpur. Among these, some were demolished and the serving ones were turned into piggery farms under the Garukhuti agricultural project.

Moreover, the school teachers who were working in these schools have been reportedly transferred to faraway places, and the students of these schools are still allegedly living in the nearby temporary sheds.

Furthermore, the four mosques in the area which were subsequently demolished between 20 and 23 September, have now been transformed into Shiva Temple. One of such temples was integrated by the chairman of the Garukhti agricultural project and BJP MLA Padma Hajarika on October 19.

In the opening ceremony of the temple, local BJP MLA Paramananda Rajbongshi and a few selected journalists were reportedly present.

Agricultural economy killed

Dhalpur was known for its production of big green vegetables, about 70% of the green and fresh vegetables of Guwahati used to come from the area and 90% of the locals were dependant on agriculture.

However, those who have been evicted, have become fully jobless. Others, who have not been evicted yet, didn’t do any farming due to the fear of possible impending eviction.

A local Faizur Rahman said, “How long will they live here in isolated areas without work, without cultivation and without any earning? If this situation continues, the government will not evict these people, these people will either die or leave the place on their own.” He added that as the rivers in the area have eroded, people have no place to go.

Sheikh Abdul Hamid, President of BTAD Citizens Rights Forum commenting on the situation said “the eviction of Dhalpur is nothing but a pilot project of present BJP government in Assam. If the hate, threat and torture can compel the Muslim people living in the area to evacuate the land, this type of agenda will be implemented all over the state to push Muslim people into the garbage. It is simply a laboratory test, which needs to be understood by all the democratic and secular individuals and organisations. That is why everyone needs to stand by these people to defeat the communal and divisive agenda of the government.”

Siasat.com would like to thank Mr Zamser Ali, for providing us with the much-needed information.

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