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2 Killed In Protests During Kaziranga National Park Eviction Drive

KAZIRANGA: Two people were killed when protests against an eviction drive turned violent in Banderdubi village near Assam’s Kaziranga this morning. 19 policemen were also injured in the incident.

Police sources have told that they died in a near stampede like situation after cops fired tear gas shells to try and disperse the protestors. Many rounds were also fired in the air, but the police said that the deaths did not happen by bullets.

Clashes happened between residents of Banderdubi village that borders the Kaziranga National Park and the district administration. The administration around 7 am came to supervise an eviction drive ordered by the Gauhati High Court.

Outraged villagers pelted stones at officials and tried to block roads by burning rubber tires and logs. Police then moved in to try and control what officials called a riot like situation.

The matter involves about 600 families, mostly Muslim who live in the buffer zone of the national park and cultivate mustard. Though this area is not a part of the core animal habitat at Kaziranga, it is used as a refuge by the animals in case of floods.

BJP’s Mrinal Saikia had approached the High Court last october asking for relocation of families occupying the buffer zone. In his petition, Mr Saikia had claimed that most of the villagers were “settlers who had illegally come in from Bangladesh.”

Assam government had earlier offered compensation to residents of three villages – Banderdubi, Deosur and Palkhowa for relocation outside the buffer zone but was unsuccessful.

Villagers claim that they have records to prove ownership of the land. They say that the government would not have made schools in the area in 1960s if they were illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

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