70 Families Evicted In Assam; Police Tear-gas Protesters, Shoot Them With Rubber Bullets
Around 70 families, many of them Muslim, were forcibly evicted from the homes they had been living in for 30 years after an eviction drive ordered by Assam state’s Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, which has been working to remove what they refer to as “encroachers” from certain areas. This drive was a clear, bigoted attempt to target Assam’s vulnerable Muslim villagers, many of whom had already lost land to floods and erosion. Villagers who protested the evictions were assaulted by the police using batons, tear gas, and rubber bullets.
“We had requested [for] some time from the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, but they carried out the eviction forcefully anyway,” village chairperson K. Aye told The Indian Express, a news publication. “Now we have nowhere to go.”
Tuliram Ronghang, a chief executive member of the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, made a bigoted reference to the families on Twitter, calling them “illegal immigrants from Bangladesh” despite the fact that they had been living there for three decades.
“The eviction drive will continue until all illegal settlers in the area are removed,” Ronghang said on Twitter. “Not an inch will be allowed to be encroached upon by illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.”
Assam has a disturbing track record of targeting Muslim-majority areas where families are already living in poverty, bulldozing their homes, and denying them their rights as Indian citizens simply because they do not have the means to obtain identification cards or paperwork.
In September 2021, a violent eviction drive aimed at driving mainly Bengali-speaking Muslims out of their homes left 800 families homeless and 4 religious structures destroyed. The raid occurred despite the fact that 246 people had filed a petition for a stay. Two people were killed by police in the raid, one of them a 12-year-old boy.
Under the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which Indian parliament enacted in 2019, Muslims are already under pressure to prove their citizenship through legal documentation, despite the fact that families like those in Assam have been living in India for decades, and such documentation is difficult to obtain.
Even for those with documentation, identity cards do not guarantee protection against a discriminatory state. Because of this, Muslims face the risk of mass statelessness in Assam, which could make them vulnerable to mass violence as well. Assam has been labeled as making progress towards genocide by the prestigious organization Genocide Watch.
Hindu Extremists Storm Railway Station Prayer Hall, Demand Its Shutdown
Karnataka state’s Hindu extremist mobs continue to grow bolder in their attacks on Muslims and their right to practice their religion. On January 31, members of the extremist group Hindu Janajagruti Samiti barged into a long-established Muslim prayer hall at a railway station in Bangalore, threatening to stage protests unless the prayer hall was shut down. In a video of the incident, the extremists can be seen claiming that the prayer space was “unauthorised,” a “serious issue,” and a “threat to national security.”
The extremists also said that the station giving permission for prayers was a “conspiracy” and claimed that Bangalore is turning into a hub of “terror activities” due to the public spaces set aside for Muslim prayers.
However, the only “terror activities” occurring in Bangalore and Karnataka as a whole have been driven by the growing boldness of Hindu extremist groups, who are encouraged by the silent support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In the past few weeks alone, Hindu extremists in the state have barged into school classrooms where Muslims are praying, banned the hijab and speaking Urdu in one college, and lynched a 19-year-old Muslim man after a public hate speech event.
Hindu Extremist Groups Put Up Signs Encouraging Muslim Boycott
Members of the dangerous and violent Hindu extremists groups Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal put up posters at a fair in Karnataka state, encouraging Hindus to boycott all Muslim vendors and ban Muslims from coming near any areas where the fair was being held.
The posters instructed Hindus not to buy from non-Hindu vendors during festivals, fairs, and other public programs. They also asked that Hindu vendors hang up saffron flags – which are now commonly associated with the Hindu supremacist movement – on their stalls, so they could be easily identified by other Hindus.
Another poster on the fairgrounds proclaimed that the area was “only open to those who worship Hindu gods” and “not for those who ruin and mock the sanctity of… Hindu gods.”
This bigoted move is just the latest in a serious of nationwide pledges to further ostracize and harass the Muslim community. In early January, extremists in Chhattisgarh state pledged that they would not sell or lease their lands to any Muslim, while extremists in other parts of India have taken public oaths to take up weapons to “kill and die” to turn India into a Hindu nation. Karnataka state in general has become increasingly hostile towards Muslims, increasing the threat of being boycotted, assaulted, or even lynched by Hindu extremists with impunity.