SILCHAR: Over 50 families of Damcherra in South Assam’s Hailakandi district face being homeless with the state government planning to set up a commando battalion training centre there.

“I don’t know what is going to happen in the near future. I can just hope that the government will understand our situation and not throw us out of our homes,” said Jashim Uddin Mazumder of Damcherra on Sunday.

Like Jashim, several other people of the village are anxious over what is to come following the recent announcement of the setting up of the training centre.

Damcherra falls under the Katlicherra assembly constituency near the Assam-Mizoram interstate border, about 60km from Hailakandi town. The village comprises people from the Muslim community.

Locals of Damcherra and its nearby areas said surveys and inspections are being conducted regularly by the police and forest departments in an area which is a government forest land regarding the project.

More than 50 families – comprising nearly 250-300 people – will end up losing their houses if the project comes to frution. “If the government goes ahead with the project, an eviction drive will be undertaken and our homes will be razed,” a resident claimed.

Local residents of Damcherra speak to news outlets on Thursday.

On Thursday, a meeting was organised in Kukinala, Damcherra, during which the local residents and members of various organisations expressed their concern over the matter. They appealed to the state government to set up the training centre in any suitable vacant site near Damcherra so that their houses are not demolished.

The president of the Barak Democratic Students’ Forum’s central committee Abdul Ahad said nearly 50-60 families will be homeless if the training centre is set up in the area in Damcherra where surveys and inspections have been done. Besides, a few religious and educational institutions will be destroyed, he said. Ahad, while lauding the government’s initiative of opening the training centre, demanded that the site be changed. He sought Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s intervention in the matter.

Ahad said that the training centre can be set up in a location between Riflemara and Bairagi – about 2km far from the area in Damcherra – as the place is not yet inhabited.

Residents come out of the meeting held in Kukinala, Damcherra, on Thursday.

A resident of Damcherra, Ashraf Uddin Barbhuiya, said the government should consider the condition of the locals and review its decision. He appealed to Katlicherra MLA Sujam Uddin Laskar to take up the matter with the government.

He said most of the people in the village are farmers by profession and are likely to face problems in earning their source of livelihood if the government implements the project.

“How are people going to earn their livelihood? Will the lands on which we cultivate remain with them if the project is implemented in Damcherra? Nothing is clear as of now. The government should think about all these aspects before going ahead with its decision,” he said.

Talking to EastMojo on Sunday, Ahad said the government’s move of setting up the training centre in Damcherra has sparked panic among the local residents.

He said there is only one school in Damcherra and students of the village will face problems if the training centre is set up and the eviction drive is conducted. The nearest school, apart from one in Damcherra, is around 3km away. “It will be difficult for the people of Damcherra, who are mostly from economically weaker sections, to send their children to the school to distant places,” he stated.

He demanded that the people be given compensation on humanitarian grounds if the project of the training centre is materialised. “The people have been living here for decades and this, in a way, has become their native place. The government should think about the people and provide compensation if it goes ahead with its decision of opening the centre,” he said.

He praised the state government for taking the decision of setting up the training centre saying there have been attempts by Mizo miscreants from time to time to capture Assam’s lands illegally and setting up of the battalion training centre will ensure the unlawful activities are prevented.

Katlicherra AIUDF legislator Sujam Uddin Laskar told reporters on Friday that he will take up the matter with CM Sarma.

Laskar told EastMojo that he had spoken to the Hailakandi superintendent of police and district forest officer regarding the matter and demanded that the site of setting up of the training centre be shifted. “There is a vacant site – Bairagi (Ramanpabasti), about 1km far from the area in Damcherra. If the centre opens up there, nobody will have any problem,” Laskar said.

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