Tribals fight pitched battle with police during eviction drive in Purnia

Landless tribals had forcibly occupied school land on Independence Day, demanding land and livelihood. Violence leaves seven, including one police person, seriously injured

By Alok Gupta
Published: Thursday 12 December 2013

Landless tribal people who had taken over a large tract of land in Purnia district of Bihar and staked claim over it, were forcibly evicted by the police on Thursday. The tribals fought a pitched battle with the police. One police person and seven tribals were severely injured in the incident.

A heavy contingent of police had been deployed for the past three days around the disputed land of Pragya Bihar Residential School at Paroura panchayat in Purnia district.

Police initially tried to negotiate tribals for an amicable solution. Tribals pleaded that they are landless with no source of livelihood. They had sought a livelihood initiative in lieu of vacating the land.

When talks failed, police cracked down on the temporary settlement to oust the tribals. Police started demolishing illegal huts and settlements erected by tribal families and subsequently set them on fire.

Irate over the police action, tribals resorted to shooting arrows at the police contingent. One policeman was severely injured by an arrow. Police then fired tear gas shells and resorted to lathicharge to disperse the tribals.

Demand for land reforms

Around 200 tribals, a section of them belonging to Santhal tribe, had occupied the school land on August 15. They christened their settlement as Augustkranti Nagar. They later submitted a memorandum to the district administration to implement D Bandhopadhyay recommendation on land reforms.

Superintendent of police of Purnia, Ajit Kumar, said that the land has been vacated. He said injured policeperson has been rushed to hospital for treatment. Six tribals have been arrested for attacking police.

The evicted tribal families now face winter nights under the open sky as their huts have been demolished.

Not the first instance

Landless tribals in the district have been grabbing land in the district for the past two years. On a previous occasion, eviction was carried out without any violence.

After the police action, the situation in Paurora panchayat is said to be tense. Local people fear retaliation by landless tribals in the following weeks.


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