Guwahati, Jan 23 (PTI) A former student leader, alleged by law enforcers to be a drug peddler, was injured in police firing in Assam’s Nagaon district, leading to the opposition calling it an effect of the prevailing “jungle raj” and claiming that the present situation is worse than that during the “secret killings” of the 1990s even as Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma ordered a probe into the incident.

Police claimed that former Nagaon College general secretary Kirti Kamal Bora was selling drugs and he was shot in the leg after he attacked law enforcers on Saturday, while AASU alleged that he had protested to drunk policemen beating up a youth, which irked them.

The chief minister said that Additional Chief Secretary Paban Borthakur has been entrusted with conducting an inquiry.

“Borthakur will go into the details of the incident and submit the report within seven days,” he said.

“The police will act tough against criminals, but they should be friend of the common man. If any personnel or officer is found guilty, strong steps will be taken against them,” Sarma added.

Bora’s mother and some students staged a demonstration in front of Nagaon police station demanding a judicial inquiry and action against the police personnel involved in the firing incident. Senior officers asked them to submit a memorandum instead of blocking the main gate.

Reacting to the protest and allegations, Assam Police tweeted, “Police personnel involved in the shooting incident at Kachalukhua, Nagaon have been sent to Police Reserve with immediate effect. We have requested the Govt to institute a Commissioner level inquiry into the incident. If any lapse is found, guilty personnel will be taken to task.”

Nagaon Superintendent of Police Anand Mishra told PTI that he will personally investigate the matter to find out whether it was an act of “overdoing” by the police.

“In the preliminary investigation, I found that police received information that some bikers were selling drugs. When two policemen in civil dress reached the spot, this particular youth asked them whether they were law enforcers.

“When they replied in affirmative, the accused hit one of them with his helmet and injured him. A backup police team placed nearby also reached the spot and tried to overpower him, but he continued attacking them. Left with no other option, police fired at his leg. Eight vials containing heroin were seized from his possession,” Mishra said.

The accused is undergoing treatment at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, and his condition is stable, doctors said.

His family, friends and opposition parties, however, dubbed the police version of the incident as “fake”.

“While returning from a pharmacy with medicines for his mother, Bora saw 8-10 policemen in civil clothes beating up a youth. He stopped his motorcycle and asked the men why they were beating the person. This irked the drunk policemen and they shot at him and later planted the heroin containers in his pocket,” a local leader of All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) said.

Bora was a student leader of AASU in Nagaon College.

AASU chief advisor Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharjya condemned the incident and demanded a judicial inquiry into it.

“The state government is creating an atmosphere of ‘open killings’. We strongly warn it to stop such barbaric acts. During his meetings with SPs and other police officials, does the chief minister give directives to them to shoot innocent people?” he told PTI.

Senior Congress leader Ripun Bora tweeted, “Police jungle raaj in Assam. I strongly condemn the police firing on former GS Kirti Kamal Bora of Nagaon College. This is a clear result of CM @himantabiswa’s provocative statements regarding police firing. SP @nagaonpolice should be suspended at the earliest!”

Raijor Dal president Akhil Gogoi said that the incident is a “dangerous outcome of police raaj” in Assam.

“The state is witnessing a worse situation than secret killings. We demand that along with the Nagaon SP, all the involved police officials should be arrested for trying to kill an innocent youth,” the Sibsagar MLA said.

“Secret killings” refers to the extra-judicial killings of family members of ULFA leaders in the 1990s.

Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) president Lurinjyoti Gogoi said that “open killings” by police have begun in order to create an atmosphere of “fear and terror”.

“The Assam Police has started open killings as per instructions of the chief minister. These open killings are happening in the same pattern of secret killings. Police are identifying the voice of protests and trying to eliminate them,” he said.

Reacting to the allegations, Mishra said, “I will personally conduct an investigation and see if there was any overdoing by the police. We don’t want the police to exercise excess power. I request all the witnesses in the area to come to me and tell the truth.”

A total of 32 people have been gunned down and at least 67 injured while allegedly trying to flee from police custody or attacking law enforcers since the second BJP government under Sarma assumed office in May 2021.

The rising number of shoot-outs whipped up a political furore with the opposition alleging that the Assam Police has turned “trigger happy” and is indulging in “open killings” under the Sarma regime.

Unfazed by criticism of his government over the encounter killings, Sarma had on July 15 last year said in the Assam Assembly that the state police has “full operational liberty” to fight criminals within the ambit of law.

The Gauhati High Court had on January 11 asked the Assam government to file a detailed affidavit within two weeks on the police encounters that are taking place since the BJP returned to power in May last year.



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