Gauhati HC Directs Assam Govt To Resettle Evicted Families Of Gorukhuti

In addition, the court directed the Darrang commissioner to provide the necessary resettlement within the next six months.
Gauhati High Court
Gauhati High Court

The Gauhati High Court on Wednesday ordered the Assam government to re-establish the families evicted during the drive at Dhalpur.

The court made the observations while hearing a petition filed by the leader of opposition in the Assam assembly, Debabrata Saikia, seeking the resettlement of those evicted at Dhalpur’s Gorukhuti.

It may be noted that as many as 700 families had been evicted during a major drive carried out by the administration against illegal encroachers in 2021.

Of those evicted, the government has already provided establishment to 600 families. The Gauhati HC today noted that the remaining 100 families will be able to approach the Darrang district commissioner to seek resettlement.

In addition, the court directed the Darrang commissioner to provide the necessary resettlement within the next six months.

Earlier in November 2021, the Assam government had clarified that relocation will be provided to the evicted families of Gorukhuti in the state's Darrang district, given that their citizenship is proved, apart from a set of other requirements.

They will not be paid any compensation though, the government said in an affidavit to Gauhati High Court in response to a PIL filed by Debabrata Saikia, terming them "encroachers".

The affidavit said, "An area of about 1,000 bighas (about 134 hectares) of land in the southern part of No 1 & No 3 Dhalpur village has been earmarked for relocation of the evicted persons subject to verification of the status of erosion affected and landless status in their respective original places and districts, citizenship and existing rehabilitation policy of the state".

Kamaljeet Sarma, Sipajhar Revenue Circle Officer, representing the Assam government said that as per the rules framed under Assam Land Revenue Regulation, 1886, the occupants were encroachers and were "liable to be evicted at any time".

Gauhati High Court
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"The matter is related to encroachment and eviction only and is not at all related to acquisition of land. Therefore, the question of resettlement, rehabilitation and compensation etc as per the Land Acquisition Act is irrelevant," he added.

The Gauhati High Court had registered a suo moto PIL after the violence during the eviction drive in Sipajhar. The High Court bench, headed by Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Justice Kakheto Sema, gave the government one week's time to submit a detailed counter affidavit.

The court observed the state government's assurance that as of now, no coercive measures were being taken against the remaining encroachers and their relocation and they are being convinced to move to the demarcated area on their own. It said, "All the same, as and when such measures are adopted, the petitioner would be at liberty to move an application before this Court".

Mr. Saikia's counsel Talha Abdul Rahman said, "You cannot just evict people from their homes on suspicion of being foreigners and later make their rehabilitation contingent on proof of citizenship", as quoted by PTI.

He then asked, "NRC is not published and the state is doubting the correctness of NRC drive. How does it then rely on the same NRC to exclude people?"

Around 1,200-1,400 houses were reportedly brought to ground on September 20 and 23, at Dhalpur I, II and III villages in Gorukhuti, leaving more than 7,000 people homeless. After stiff resistance by the locals, two people were killed in police firing on September 23. Over 20 people, including policemen were injured.

Gauhati High Court
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