Darrang bandh

GUWAHATI: The state witnessed widespread protests a day after two persons were killed in police firing as a huge crowd obstructed the local administration from carrying out a massive eviction drive at Gorukhuti village in Assam’s Darrang district on Thursday morning. The death toll from police action rose to on Friday.

Several organisations led by the All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU) called for a 12-hour Darrang district bandh from 5 am to protest against the police action on innocent protestors.

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The death toll in police firing climbed to three while stray incidents of stone pelting at vehicles and burning of tyres on roads to enforce a bandh in the district since Friday morning were reported.

Two persons were killed and 19 others, including 11 police personnel, were injured in police action on protesters of Dholpur No 3 in Sipajhar during an eviction drive on Thursday.

11 persons, including three policemen, are undergoing treatment for injuries at the Gauhati Medical College & Hospital (GMCH).

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More security personnel were being brought in to bolster security and prevent any escalation of trouble in Assam in the wake of the incident.

The bandh was total in Dalgaon, Kharupetia and other minority-dominated areas of Darrang district, while there is no impact of the bandh in Mangaldai, sources here said.

AAMSU president Rejaul Karim Sarkar said the BJP-led government has been on a killing-spree of Muslim people in the name of eviction drive in the state.

Leaders of the AAMSU warned atrocities on the minorities will not be tolerated anymore. The AAMSU has demanded the government to bring Darrang deputy commissioner and superintendent of police under the purview of the probe into the barbaric incident.

Addressing a press conference at Kharupetia on Friday, AAMSU president Rejaul Karim Sarkar said the BJP-led government has been on a killing-spree of Muslim people in the name of eviction drive in the state.

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“The government has denied the fundamental rights of food, clothing and housing. A judicial probe under the chief justice of Gauhati High Court should be instituted to probe into the causes and circumstances of the killing,” Sarkar said.

The student body has announced a series of agitation programmes in protest against the incident. On October 2, it will stage a mass movement in Darrang district and on October 18, the student body will stage protest in New Delhi.

A group of Congress leaders and workers led by president Bhupen Kumar Borah was prevented by police from visiting Gorukhuti on Friday morning

Meanwhile, a group of leaders and workers of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) led by president Bhupen Kumar Borah, was prevented by police from visiting Gorukhuti on Friday morning.

They later took out a march at Mangaldoi, the district headquarter town, condemning the BJP-led government.

They sat in protest in front of the deputy commissioner’s office asking that the ongoing eviction drive be stopped and a proper inquiry be instituted into the incident.

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Apart from APCC president Bhupen Kumar Borah, Assam Congress Legislature Party (ACLP) leader Debabrata Saikia, MP Ripun Bora, deputy CLP leader Rakibul Hussain, MLA Basanta Das, MLA Nurul Huda and many senior leaders and were also in the protest.

“Congress party feels that chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma despite holding a constitutional post, taking oath to serve and protect all citizens has behaved in a biased manner by constantly giving provocative statements which have made matters worse. His statement of giving full authority to police to do encounter firing had also given license to kill and has dangers of turning Assam into a police state,” Bhupen Kumar Bora said in a memorandum to Governor Jagdish Mukhi here.

“Sarma thereby as chief minister should watch his words and orders in future to maintain sanity in police force and peace in the state. The highly provocative statements of the Political Secretary of the chief minister should also be brought under judicial enquiry,” Bora said.

The Congress has demanded a judicial probe into the incident under a sitting judge of High Court. The opposition party also demanded immediate halt of the eviction until an appropriate rehabilitation plan is made public.

It also demanded immediate suspension of the deputy commissioner and superintendent of police of Darrang district.

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The APCC also demanded that the cameraman and the police personnel who were stationed and took part in the whole barbaric act should also be accorded exemplary punishment. Moreover those deceased and those injured should be adequately compensated.

It also advocated for an all-party meeting along with stakeholders should be immediately called to strategise and plan a rehabilitation and compensation program for the people of Dholpur.

“The lone protestor could have been easily overpowered by more than 40 police personnel who were present. To shoot a lone distraught protestor who is losing his hearth and home is brutally inhuman. The police should have tried to pacify him instead of killing him at point blank range,” Bora said.

“Due the Covid-19 pandemic, a full bench of Gauhati High Court headed by Chief Justice, vide its order dated 10.05.2021 had ordered that any decree for eviction/ dispossession or demolition should remain in abeyance. In spite of this, the BJP government has remained adamant, behaving in an autocratic manner to evict the residents of Dholpur without any rehabilitation plan,” Bora also said.

“The extremely inhuman incident that occurred in Dholpur is undemocratic, unconstitutional and a clear case of state sponsored fire on people living in the char areas. This incident is a gross violation of Right to Equality,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) produced Bijoy Kumar Bania, an official photographer hired by the Darrang district administration who was filmed assaulting a dead man, in the court of chief judicial magistrate in Guwahati.

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