Assam’s Evictions Are Turning Skilled Bengali Muslim Farmers Into Labourers – By Makepeace Sitlhou
On the day Moinul Haque, 28, was shot in the abdomen and killed by an AK-47 bullet fired by a policeman in this district in the central part of the state, his family moved from their 30-year-old tin-walled home that was dismantled in a government eviction drive on the day of his killing to the 1,000 bighas (330 acres) of land allotted temporarily to their village, across a shallow stream….
Haque’s family, like the majority of evictees from their village, contested their representation as illegal immigrants. They showed Article 14 two receipts issued to his maternal grandfather in 1952 for land tax paid to the Assam state revenue office (then based in Shillong, the erstwhile capital before the formation of the state of Meghalaya) for Dharmapur, located in Barpeta district of lower Assam….
While the allegations of land grabbing are unsubstantiated, the settlers have paid land taxes for decades. The communal slant of the eviction drive is barely veiled – the land freed through the evictions, currently cultivated by Bengali Muslim settlers, already shows high agricultural productivity, but according to the government will now be tilled by indigenous youth who, research showed have a shrinking interest in farming….