Blood has been spilt and those guilty must be punished, says Chief Justice
The Gauhati High Court on Thursday directed the Assam government to file a detailed affidavit on the September 23 eviction drive in Darrang district’s Dhalpur, resulting in clashes and the death of two persons, including a minor, in police firing.
A video on the clashes showed a photographer appointed by the district administration stomping on the body of a man shot by the police.
‘This is a big tragedy’
Hearing a public interest litigation petition by Congress MLA Debabrata Saikia and a suo motu petition in connection with the eviction, a division bench of Chief Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Justice Soumitra Sakia said, “This is a big tragedy, very unfortunate. Those who are guilty, if at all must be punished, no doubt about that.”
Seeking punishment on “one or two other incidents as well”, the Chief Justice remarked: “Khoon zameen par gir gaya [blood has been spilt].”
The bench also asked if the State believed that the National Rehabilitation Policy was not applicable in Assam and directed it to file a detailed affidavit in the matter within three weeks.
In his petition, Mr. Saikia said the people evicted from Dhalpur were from marginalised and socio-economically disadvantaged sections and forced to migrate due to repeated floods and erosion by the Brahmaputra since 1960.
The petition claimed that the government justified the eviction by referring to a Cabinet decision to clear about 77,000 bighas of land in the Sipajhar area of Darrang district for setting up a farming project.
The court fixed November 3 as the next date of hearing.
Suspended MLA booked
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister’s Special Vigilance Cell booked suspended Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed in a case related to misappropriation of government funds. He was arrested on Saturday for a “provocative” statement on the “martyrs” of Assam Agitation who were killed in Darrang district in 1983.
The case pertains to the “misappropriation” of more than ₹ 25 lakh meant for road construction under the Mandia block of Barpeta district during 2017-18. Mr Ahmed is an MLA of Barpeta district.
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