Violence spreads to more areas of Karbi Anglong hill district

The Assam government on Thursday requested the Army to be on standby as it sought 15 additional companies of central paramilitary forces in view of a series of agitation programmes — a 12-hour rail blockade called by the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) to be followed by spells of bandh and blockades — to press for creation of a separate Bodoland, even as violence spread to more areas of Karbi Anglong hill district as the statehood movement intensified with mobs torching government offices and public properties in different places.

Principal Secretary Home Shailesh told journalists, after a security review meeting, that the Army has been kept on standby and measures taken to ensure smooth running the train services with adequate security. He said the government would take firm steps to maintain law and order. Top officials of N.F. Railway took part in the meeting called by Chief Secretary P.P. Varma and attended by Director General of Police and other top officials.

In Karbi Anglong miscreants damaged the railway track between Diphu and Doldoli, resulting in disruption of train services to and from upper Assam districts via the hill district. The services were later resumed after the track was repaired.

Statehood movement supporters felled trees on roads in different places of the district to obstruct movement of police, paramilitary forces and fire service personnel.

In curfew-bound Diphu town, moba attacked the radio station, set ablaze a vehicle parked on the campus and also torched a portion of the building and damaged equipment. Miscreants also set fire to and ransacked the office of the literary body, Assam Sahitya Sabha, in the town.

Karbi Anglong Deputy Commissioner P.K. Buragohain told The Hindu that mobs took advantage of topography of Diphu town to defy curfew and indulge in violence. He said Army columns had been engaged in area domination in the hill town since Wednesday, while two additional companies of the Assam police battalion reached there on Thursday.

Wednesday’s violence in Diphu left one dead and at least 20 injured, prompting the district administration to clamp an indefinite curfew on the hill town.

Meanwhile, Congress ministers and legislators representing the hill district, and senior MP Biren Singh Engti, who represents the Autonomous District (ST) constituency comprising the hill districts of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao, met here in Dispur and decided that a 200-member delegation go to Delhi to meet central leaders to press for creation of an autonomous status within Assam under Article 244(a) of the Constitution.

While Congress leaders in Karbi Anglong and different Karbi bodies associated with the ruling party favour autonomous status within Assam, the opposition Hill State Democratic Party(HSDP) and like-minded bodies have been demanding creation of a separate State by carving the twin hill districts out of Assam.

Sporadic incidents were also reported from several lower Assam districts including Dhubri, Bongaigaon, Goalpara, where normal life was affected during a 36-hour bandh called by the All Koch Rajbangshi Students’ Union (AKRSU) and several other bodies of the Koch-Rajbangshi community to press for creation of Kamatapur State.