Police used ‘excessive force’ during eviction drive in Assam, claims NGO in report

New Delhi, Oct 4 (PTI) A civil rights NGO on Monday released a report on the clashes during an eviction drive in Assam’s Darrang district last month which left two people dead and around 20 injured, and alleged that police made unprovoked attacks and used excessive force against the displaced people.

The Association for Protection of Civil Rights said the report was formulated after a fact-finding team comprising social activists, journalists and researchers visited the area last week.

According to the report, the police and the administration blamed a large mob for attacking them with sticks and stones that led to the violence.

“They (police) said that following negotiations at the eviction site, the residents were assured rehabilitation and other alternative measures. Convinced with the assurances, they had started dispersing to collect their belongings before leaving the area.

“Suddenly, over a hundred people attacked the police party with sticks and stones. They first fired tear gas shells and rubber bullets to disperse them. When it didn’t deter them, they fired live bullets in self-defense,” the report noted.

Two people were killed in police firing during the eviction drive on September 23 amid massive protests. Over 20 people were injured in the melee.

According to the report, the residents contacted by the fact-finding team countered the police version and said that “the eviction notices were served less than 24 hours before the government drive began.”

They also alleged that police attacked the people who were evacuating their homes, according to the report.

It also alleged that police made unprovoked attacks and used excessive force against the people.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said that discussions were held for over four months before the eviction drive was launched.

“The eviction drive was not carried out in a day. It was initiated with an agreed principle that as per the land policy, the landless will be provided with two acres and this was agreed upon by the representatives. Following this, no resistance was expected. However, about 10,000 people surrounded the police, indulged in violence and they were forced to retaliate,” Sarma had said.

He also said that the Popular Front of India (PFI) was involved in the violence, and demanded a ban on it.

The NGO’s report claimed that the families of the two deceased as well as those injured were yet to receive compensation.