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Rewind 2022: Eviction drives, Mukroh firing etc dominate State politics

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State lost cultural stalwarts like Nipon Goswami, Pulak Gogoi, artist Neelpawan Barua


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Guwahati, Dec 31 (PTI): The year 2022 saw Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s Government pushing  what some saw as the BJP’s agenda of ‘muscular nationalism’ and ‘Hindutva’, grabbing national eyeballs in the process.

It undertook a series of drives against encroachment displacing large numbers of families, most of them Bengali Muslims, demolished private ‘Madrasas’ and sealed the ‘Miya’ (Bengali-speaking Muslims in Assam) museum, terming most of them as ‘illegal encroachments’ on State-owned land.

The State also arrested 53 ‘Jihadis’ with alleged links to the banned Bangladesh militant outfit Ansarul Bangla and 36 PFI activists in the State during the nation-wide crackdown against the outfit.

Earlier this year, the Assam Government informed the Gauhati High court that some 51 persons were killed and 139 injured in encounters with the police between May 2021 and May 2022.

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The Opposition parties and human rights activists have been critical of the eviction drives and encounter deaths, many of which happened after arrested alleged criminals “attempted to escape police custody”.

The chief minister on his part has spared no stone unturned to assert that these are serious threats to the security of the State and the nation and will be crushed with an iron hand.

Sarma, the BJP leadership’s ‘blue-eyed boy’, went all out by allegedly facilitating the stay of rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, led by Eknath Shinde who went on to become the Maharashtra chief minister by toppling the Uddhav Thackeray led ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ alliance, as they manoeuvered the twists and turns of dissident politics from a city hotel here.

The arrest of Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani by the Assam Police for tweeting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, following a case filed in Kokrajhar district, and being brought here was also attributed by political opponents as yet another attempt to remain in the good books of the party’s central leadership.

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Mevani was granted bail in the primary case related to the tweet but was rearrested following allegations of ‘assaulting’ a policewoman while being brought by the law enforcers from Guwahati to Kokrajhar.

Hearing the bail petition, Barpeta district and sessions judge also urged the Guwahati high court to direct the State police force to ‘reform itself’, referring to the slew of police encounters over the last one year.

The chief minister also emerged as the BJP’s new poster boy for campaigning, as he was roped in as a star campaigner by the saffron party for the just concluded assembly polls in Gujarat and the municipal elections in Delhi.

The celebration of the 400th birth anniversary of legendary Ahom general Lachit Barphukan, who defeated the Mughals in several wars, was celebrated in the national capital with the Prime Minister and Union Home minister Amit Shah attending the event.

This is being viewed as Sarma’s attempt to take the State narrative to a national platform along with his much touted claim of making Assam one of the country’s top five States.

The State, however, faced a setback with the devastating flood this year, one of the worst in recent decades, claiming the lives of over 200 people and affecting a population over 90 lakh. Silchar in Barak Valley bore the brunt of the natural calamity.

Besides the three waves of flood, the State witnessed landslides in Dima Hasao, heavy unseasonal rainfall in many parts of the State while several districts received little or no rainfall, leading to drought-like situation.

The State’s contentious issues with its neighbours also came to the fore with a clash in Mukroh in West Karbi Anglong in which five Meghalaya residents and a Assam Forest department official were killed in firing along the interstate boundary.

Assam has disputes related to boundary demarcation with Meghalaya, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. Talks are on with all the States concerned.

Sarma, on assuming office, had sent out an olive branch to the banned ULFA (Independent) to come forward for talks. While the outfit had announced a ceasefire, renewed every three months, there has been no progress in negotiations.

There are, however, reports of the ULFA(I) trying to regroup in some districts of upper Assam, leading to encounters with security forces and recovery of arms and ammunition.

The State also lost several cultural stalwarts with the deaths of eminent actor-director Nipon Goswami, artist-filmmaker Pulak Gogoi, artist Neelpawan Barua and danseuse Garima Hazarika.

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The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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