Around 200 Assamese migrants have set up homes in the Turahalli forest area in Bengaluru. They say they were forced to move to Bengaluru as they were refused jobs at Assam.
Abdul Wahad, a migrant, “We all lived in Assam before coming to Bengaluru. I had visited Bengaluru 10 years ago. We did not get jobs in Assam. So we decided to come to Bengaluru in search of jobs. Right now we are two hundred of us and we work as rag pickers at apartments in the city.”
These migrants live very close to Mylasandra lake in Turahalli forest. They find it difficult to sustain in Bengaluru but they say it is much better than what they earned in Assam. Mohammed Islam, a migrant, “We are uneducated and we did not get a job in Assam. Now we pick up rags and segregate them. We sell it to scrap collectors and earn about Rs 200 per day and sometimes we earn Rs 500 amongst four people. It is difficult to sustain with what we earn now but it is better than what we earned in Assam.”
According to the recent Supreme Court ruling on the forest dwellers, all the encroachers in the forest and forest land are to be evicted. The migrants have been living here because they thought it was private land.
These people do not have proper identity cards because of which speculations of them being not registered under the National Register for Citizens are doing the rounds amongst the residents of Mylasandra.
“I do not know about the NRC and I am not sure if I am registered under it. Apart from the ration card, I do not have any other documents,” Mohammed Islam, said.
“Some people had raised objection against us for living in this area. So we called the landowner who said that the land belonged to them. But we don’t know whose land it is,” Mohammed Islam, added.
The forest officers at the Forest Department of Karnataka said that the land belongs to their department and no one is authorized to live in that area.
Dr. T. N. Manohora, Scientific Forest Officer, Forest Department of Karnataka, said, “The forest department is not aware of any such encroachment. However, the land comes under the forest department and it is illegal to live there. We will go through a legal procedure to evict the area”.
The expert said migration has been on the rise as the registration procedure by the government is faulty. Abdul Razak, a Political Analyst, said, “There have been cases of migration from a long time and it has increased in recent times. Because of the faulty system, identification has been difficult. This has also led to a rise in fake IDs. These problems should be identified soon. This is very crucial to the society and the government should look after it. The forest department should see to it that these migrants do not encroach these areas. ”