Around 700 families were left homeless after they were evicted on November 27 and 28 from Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary in the outskirts of Guwahati, Assam. The eviction was done as per the order of Gauhati High Court in the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) in and around Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary after the PIL filed by an NGO, Early Birds, in August this year.
The HC directed the state government to evict the encroachment in the ESZ and submit a detailed report by November 30. However, in August this year, the state government evicted 283 houses in Amchang but later filed an affidavit before the high court as the encroachers had agreed to evict themselves from the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ).
In the year 2004, Amchang Forest Reserve, South Amchang Forest Reserve and Khanapara Reserve Forest were put together as Amchang Forest Reserve which is spread across 78.64 sq km. In June this year, the expert committee set up by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) proposed 109.99 sq km in and around the sanctuary as ESZ.
The eviction was supposed to be carried out for 3-days i.e., on November 27, 28 and 29. However, on the second day, the High Court put a stay order after the government submitted a prayer before them to treat the matter with a humanitarian view. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and the Environment and Forest Minister of Assam, Pramila Rani Brahma assured that the indigenous people will be rehabilitated.
It should be noted that the people had been living in and around Amchang since the 1980-1990s, after their lands and houses were washed away in floods in different districts of Assam. 1500 armed security personnel, 300 demolition labourers, eight elephants and eight bulldozers were deployed to evict the encroachers in which four people were injured.
A schoolboy tries to collect his books after his school was demolished.
A woman breaks down after seeing her house getting demolished.
A house getting demolished.
A student carries a project she made from her demolished school.
An angry crowd pushes armed police personnel. Allegedly, no women police personnel were deployed.
A broken group of women cry and protest against the eviction.
Ironically, an elephant was used to demolish a temporary house.
A group of students from Janashimalu High School near Panjabari (Amchang Forest Reserve) pray after their school gets demolished.
A group of women shout seeing their house getting demolished.
Police trying to disperse the angry crowd by firing tear gas shells.
Heavy deployment of armed personnel to evict the encroachers.
A woman is taken to the hospital after she faints after seeing her dream house getting demolished.
It’s very sad to see the houses of people getting destroyed, after being built with their hard earned money. Around 408 residential houses were demolished in two days of the proposed three-day eviction drive.
Authors Note: All photos were obtained, with permission, from G Plus.