For over a month now, residents of two Upper Assam villages, Laika and Dodhia, including nearly 3,000 people have been protesting in Tinsukia town, near the deputy collector's office.
The residents of the village staged a protest near Tinsukia Deputy Commissioner's office on Thursday, January 21, demanding rehabilitation as they claim their settlements which fall inside the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park have not seen any development, NDTV reported.
Holding placards and banners, the villagers took to the Tinsukia road, vowing not to return till their demands are met. Many even broke down barricades set up by the police and entered the Tinsukia DC office.
"Our rehabilitation process has not started yet. For the last several days, we are protesting for the rehabilitation for 1,480 families of Laika-Dodhia villages. The people are staying at the makeshift camp near Tinsukia DC office with many difficulties. Braving severe cold the people are staying at the camp. We need rehabilitation of our people at the earliest," Apio Taid, member of Laika and Dodhia Rehabilitation Committee said.
Takam Mising Parin Kebang (TMPK) Tinsukia assistant general Secretary Ajay Doley said, "Till now the government has not done anything for the rehabilitation of the Laika-Dodhia villagers. The people are suffering in the makeshift camp for last one month. We have given January 31, 2021, as the deadline for the rehabilitation of the people. If our demands are not met within the stipulated time, then the people will rehabilitate themselves in Dibru-Saikhowa National Park."
The two villages which are situated inside the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park have been the settlement of families who were displaced by the great earthquake of 1950. Laika falls under Tinsukia district and Dodhia in adjoining Dibrugarh district.
The residents of the village who belong to the indigenous Mising tribe, mostly displaced people from Dhemaji and Dibrugarh districts, have been living in the two forest villages for the last 70 years. However, since India's Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 forbids any kind of human settlement within a national park, no developmental has been carried out in the two villages.
On December 30, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal constituted a committee to look for the rehabilitation of the households of Laika and Dodhia villages. The Chief Minister asked the Environment and Forest and Revenue Department to permanently rehabilitate the families by January 31.
The government has also proposed Lakhimpur's Adhkhona-Adielani area for the rehabilitation of Dodhia, and for the rehabilitation of Laikia, the government has given land at Namphai reserve forest.