One killed in clashes; curfew clamped in Barpeta, Tezpur; police, media face fury of protesters

Riot-hit Assam, which has been limping back to normality, suffered a fresh jolt on Tuesday when one person was killed and over 30 people were injured in violence during a 12-hour State-wide bandh called by the United Movement for People’s Rights (UMPR).

The shutdown was to protest the government’s “failure” to rehabilitate inmates of relief camps and curb recurring ethnic violence.

The sporadic incidents triggered tension and curfew was clamped in the Barpeta Road police station and Howly outpost areas of Barpeta district, in Tezpur town in northern Assam and in the Ambagan area in central Assam’s Nagaon district to prevent escalation of violence.

Inspector-General (Law and Order) L.R. Bisnoi told The Hindu that one person was killed at Khairbari under the Barpeta Road police station when clashes broke out between bandh supporters and shopowners.

652 persons arrested

The police fired rubber bullets and teargas shells in eight places and resorted to lathi charge in 17 places to disperse bandh supporters, who turned unruly and threw stones at them. One person was injured in police firing. Eight policemen, including two women constables, sustained injuries in stone throwing. About 30 persons were injured in the lathi charge and two of them were admitted to hospital. Mr. Bisnoi said 36 persons had been arrested. Also, 652 persons, were picked up, 20 of them for the Barpeta Road incident.

Several mediapersons who were covering the incidents on Barpeta Road and at other places were also injured in attacks by bandh supporters.

In Guwahati city, the bandh did not have any impact but in the afternoon rumours of outbreak of violence spread like wildfire, prompting shopkeepers to down the shutters and students to leave educational institutions. Public and private transport vehicles went off the road in some localities. However, the district administration and the police moved swiftly and made announcements over loudspeakers, appealing the public not to believe rumours.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi appealed to political parties and organisations to refrain from calling bandhs and issuing provocative statements. He said Tuesday’s bandh, called by UMPR, under the banner of 29 organisations, only added to tension and hampered the government’s efforts to restore peace and harmony in the violence-hit State.

Mr. Gogoi said the government had asked the security forces to seize all illegal arms.

As many as seven Cabinet ministers and two Parliamentary Secretaries were camping in and touring Kokrajhar, Chirang, Bongaingaon, Dhubri and Barpetato closely monitor law and order situation.

Late Monday night, one person was killed and five were injured in firing by armed miscreants at Pakrital near Fakiragram in Kokrajhar district.

The article has been corrected for a factual error.