Tinsukia: Tension prevailed on Saturday at the Maguri-Motapung Beel area in Assam’s Tinsukia district after clashes erupted between protestors and security forces, injuring on-duty magistrate Joydeep Razzak.
According to sources, hundreds of villagers from Greater Rangagora belt, having proximity to Baghjan gas blowout well, had blocked the bridge at Maguri Motapung Beel demanding rent compensation from Oil India Limited as a fallout of the blowout.
Someswar Baruah, a farmer from Nutun Rangagora village, said they were protesting peacefully to press in for their demands. “However, a magistrate came along with police, CRPF and asked us to remove the blockade. Soon there was a scuffle, and a woman protestor was pushed to ground instigating protestors.”
“They (men in uniform) did not even spare women and beat them up chasing to homes,” Baruah said, adding, police resorted to lathi-charge, tear gas and even blank firing.”
However, he denied the charge of stone-pelting by protestors.
Another villager and farmer by profession, Kirud Gogoi said, “I challenge police cannot show a single video of stone-pelting by protestors. We do not know who pelted the stone.”
Talking to this correspondent, superintendent of Tinsukia police Shiladitya Chetia said, security forces tried to convince the protestors to lift the blockade. “However, they resorted to stone pelting resulting in cut injury to the executive magistrate on duty above his right eye.”
“The police had to use force to disperse the mob and situation is under control,” Chetia said, adding, “We have apprehended 18 protestors.”
According to sources, a few security personnel and villagers also sustained minor injuries.
The development came a day after meeting between the villagers and OIL over the rental compensation failed at OIL headquarters in Duliajan.
“Due to the blowout and massive fire, there were earthquakes now and then in our village, resulting in massive cracks in our homes, leaving them unsafe for us to stay in. Hence, we left our homes and initially shifted to a rehabilitation camp set up by the government,” Gogoi lamented.
Gogoi said, in October the camp was closed. “OIL agreed to pay us rent compensation of Rs 50,000 per family from October 23, as we had to move to rental houses on the outskirts of Tinsukia town, around 10kms from our village.”
“OIL paid us first-month compensation but have refused to pay for the second month. They claim that the agreement was done only till the time fire is doused which happened on November 14,” added Gogoi. The question, who gives rent on a home in the mid of the month by charging have rent and why is it OIL did not inform us in writing to return to our villagers as the fire was doused?
“We are still stating at rented houses,” said Gogoi.