Three persons were killed and 15 injured in police firing and mob violence in lower Assam’s Goalpara district on Monday. Following this, indefinite curfew was clamped and the Army called out in the Forest Gate and Moilapathar areas under the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council (RHAC).

Assam Home Secretary G.D. Tripathi told The Hindu that seven persons were injured in police firing. Eight police personnel suffered wounds in the mob attack on government and police vehicles.Additional Deputy Commissioner Utpal Sharma said the trouble began on Monday morning following the recovery of the body of Taher Ali, a resident of Moilapathar village, from Rakhasini hills, a reserve forest. Ali went missing on Sunday afternoon after he went into the forest near a village inhabited by the Rabha tribe. His body was found buried inside the forest on Monday morning.

When the police, accompanied by the Magistrate, went to shift the body for post-mortem, a mob prevented them and attacked the officials’ vehicles. As stones continued to be pelted at policemen injuring them, they opened fire. Two persons — Sahidul Islam and Gulzar Ali — were killed in the firing and seven received bullet injuries. The ADC said the mob set on fire a person who was passing by the troubled area on a bike. The victim could not be identified immediately as the body was charred.

In February, 20 people lost their lives — 13 in police firing and seven in ethnic clashes between Rabha and non-Rabha groups in Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council (RHAC) areas of Goalpara district. The violence broke out after mobs comprising the Rabha people attacked polling centres and personnel to obstruct panchayat polls in the council areas. Subsequent clashes between the Rabha and non-Rabha groups triggered exodus of people from the affected villages. As many as 18,896 people took shelter in 22 relief camps. A total of 4,460 affected people are still in 14 relief camps.

The RHAC was constituted in 1995 — along with two other autonomous councils, the Mising and the Tiwa Autonomous Councils — by the Congress government led by Hiteswar Saikia. However, the elections to the RHAC have not been held till date and for the past 18 years the Council is run by an ad hoc body appointed by the State government.