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Darrang: 12-hr bandh to protest eviction drive deaths

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
September 24, 2021 14:25 IST
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A 12-hour bandh called by a body of various organisations representing the minority community to protest the death of two persons during an eviction drive affected normal life in Assam's Darrang district on Friday.

 

IMAGE: People carry a man who was injured in police lathi-charge during an agitation against an eviction drive, in Darrang district, on Thursday. Photograph: PTI Photo

Two persons were killed and 20 others injured in clashes between police and alleged encroachers during an eviction drive in villages under Sipajhar revenue circle on Thursday.

No untoward incident has been reported so far in the bandh called by the All Minority Organisations Coordination Committee, which includes the All Assam Minority Students Union (AAMSU) and the Jamiat-e-Ulema among others, that began at 5 am on Friday, a police officer said.

All business establishments remained closed and very few vehicles plied the roads. Security has been tightened across the district with heavy deployment in Goroikhuti, Dholpur I and III villages in Sipajhar where the eviction drive was underway, he said.

A Congress delegation, comprising its state chief Bhupen Bora, Rajya Sabha MP Ripun Bora, deputy leader of Congress Legislature Party (CLP) Rakibul Hussain and other senior leaders, staged a protest against the incident outside the Darrang deputy commissioner's office in district headquarters Mangaldoi.

The delegation was also scheduled to submit a memorandum to Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi through the deputy commissioner, party spokesperson Bobbeeta Sharma said.

Director General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta visited the district on Thursday night to review the law and order situation, and announced that the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) will probe the incident.

'Some facts have come to light while there are many that are yet to be unravelled. The CID will investigate all the aspects,' he told reporters.

The DGP said that the photographer of the deputy commissioner's office who was seen in a viral video kicking and hitting a man allegedly shot dead by security personnel has been arrested and booked, and he was in the CID's custody.

The state government has announced a judicial inquiry into the incident by a retired Gauhati high court judge whose name is yet to be declared.

Eleven seriously injured people, of whom three were policemen and the rest civilians, were shifted to Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) late on Thursday night, its superintendent Abhijit Sharma said.

A policeman and three civilians were stated to be critical, while the condition of the remaining people was stable although they were under observation, he said.

Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Padma Hazarika, who is the in-charge of the government's community farming project to be taken up on the evicted land, said that the protestors had already dispersed after a positive discussion with the deputy commissioner who had assured them that their demands will be considered and they will be provided with an adequate rehabilitation package.

"After that who attacked the policemen and under the provocation of whom must be investigated. If vested parties think they can stop the eviction drive and the farming project, then they are mistaken. The project will be successfully completed," he said.

The BJP alleged that 'third party political and apolitical forces' including Islamist outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) could be behind instigating protesters to attack Assam Police personnel during an eviction drive in Darrang district.

"At Gorukhuti, we have observed a pattern similar to the PFI's way of functioning. The outfit aims to only create unrest," local BJP MP Dilip Saikia told reporters.

The Islamist organisation has been banned in several states and the Centre is also in the process of making it a proscribed outfit.

Saikia said that other 'political and apolitical organisations' could also be behind the incident and the facts will gradually be unravelled during investigation.

BJP state chief Bhabesh Kalita claimed that there was a 'pre-planned move' to gather people from outside and attack the police.

'Doubtful citizens are being evicted and the BJP is fully behind the state government's drive,' he added.

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said on Thursday that the ongoing eviction drive will not be stopped and the police entrusted with the job of clearing the land of 'illegal encroachers' will continue to do so till the job was done.

The Darrang district administration has so far cleared 602.4 hectares of land and evicted 800 families since Monday and demolished four 'illegally' constructed religious structures at Sipajhar.

The chief minister had visited the area on June 7 and inspected the riverine areas allegedly encroached by 'illegal settlers' near Dholpur Shiva temple and directed the district administration to clear the area for setting up the community farming project.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2021 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
 
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