Armed with 15 elephants, police evicts Muslim, Tribal squatters in Assam

Armed with 15 elephants, police evicts Muslim, Tribal squatters in Assam
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Abdul Karim, left, looks on as an elephant is used to demolish his house during the eviction drive. Photograph: Anupam Nath/AP

Guwahati: In an unusual step, Assam forest department officials used elephants to displace squatters during an eviction drive inside Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary in Guwahati.

According to reports, officials claimed that people were illegally living in a protected forest area.

The eviction drive was carried out on the direction of Gauhati High Court. Armed with the eviction order issued, police and civil administration entered the three location Nabajyoti Nagar and Kankan Nagar areas and Yousuf Nagar and demolished about 1,000 bamboo and tin huts and properties belonging to the locals.

More than 15 elephants, a few bulldozers, 1,500 police personnel, 300 demolition labourers and 10 JCBs have also been engaged in the eviction drive.

Around 408 houses have been demolished and the drive would continue on Tuesday too.

The situation turned violent when the residents of Nabajyotinagar argued that they had legally bought the land and tried to resist the eviction drive.

Police resorted to lathi-charge, burst tear-gas and fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd in which several people including three women were injured.

The locals also alleged that they had not received prior notice about the eviction drives.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people and different social organisations took to the streets demanding an immediate halt to the eviction drive against indigenous people.

The Mishing organisation, Takam Mishing Porin Kebang (TMPK), called for a 12-hour dawn-to-dusk Assam shutdown to oppose the eviction drive.

Protests were held in Majuli, Bihpuria, Jagun, Sivsagar, Lakhimpur, Gohpur and many other places where hundreds of agitators came out to the streets to condemn the eviction by blocking roads and imposing shutdowns.

With agencies input