The Assam government on Monday started evicting residents from the Lumding reserve forest in Hojai district, The Hindu reported. The two-day eviction drive was ordered by the Gauhati High Court on September 30.

“Nearly half of the Lumding forest was encroached upon over the years by people from Barpeta, Nagaon, and Dhubri districts,” Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma claimed, according to the Hindustan Times. “Since 2012, these encroachers have cut nearly half of trees in the forest and started ginger cultivation with an annual turnover of Rs 25 crore.”

Sarma said that some businessmen had also encroached upon the forest and hired people from Barpeta and Dhubri districts for commercial farming, according to The Hindu.

The drive in Lumding forest was undertaken by the government a month and a half after it evicted people from Sipajhar area of Darrang district. On September 23, the Sipajhar eviction drive had turned violent. Two civilians, including a 12-year-old child, were killed in police firing. The civilians, mostly Muslims of Bengali origin, were among villagers who were protesting against the eviction.

On Monday, the government officials claimed that the Lumding forest eviction drive was peaceful as there was no resistance from “illegal settlers”, The Hindu reported. The government has deployed 1,000 security personnel, including four Central Reserve Police Force teams, elephants and excavators to…

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