One killed and 20 injured as violence erupts over demand for hill State

An indefinite curfew was clamped in Diphu, headquarters town of Karbi Anglong Hill district in central Assam, on Wednesday following widespread violence during an agitation for statehood that left one dead and at least 20 injured. The agitation was spurred by the Centre’s endorsement on Tuesday of creation of a Telangana State from Andhra Pradesh.

Some groups associated with the ruling Congress demanded formation of an autonomous State comprising the twin hill districts of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao under Article 244 (a) of the Constitution, while anti-Congress groups such as the Hill State Democratic Party (HSDP) wanted creation of a separate State comprising the two hill districts under Article 3. Both groups insisted that if Telangana could be created by the Centre, then people of the two hill districts must also be given statehood.

Director-General of Police Jayanto Narayan Choudhury told The Hindu that the police had to resort to firing to disperse the protesters, who torched residences of executive members of the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) and police and public vehicles, besides resorting to stone-throwing.

He said six persons were injured in police firing but it was yet to be ascertained whether the person who succumbed to his injuries died of a bullet wound.

The DGP said the situation was brought under control after curfew was clamped in Diphu at 3 p.m. and additional paramilitary forces were rushed to the town.

Earlier, mobs threw stones at the residences of Congress MP from Diphu Biren Singh Engti and Congress legislator and parliamentary secretary Bidya Singg Engleng, attacked the party office and locked the gates of the KAAC Secretariat.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said the statehood demands of Bodos, Karbis, Dimasas and Koch-Rajbangshis were not new. The government was keen on holding discussions with all groups and finding ways to redress their grievances.

Memorandum

In another development, a delegation of the Bodoland People’s Front, a coalition partner of the ruling Congress in Assam, led by the chief executive member of the Bodoland Territorial Council Hagrama Mohilary, submitted a memorandum to Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde pressing for creation of a Bodoland State.