Protest snowballs against army in Karbi Anglong after ‘rape’ of minor

A deserted street on bandh day in Karbi Anglong district of Assam on Sunday.Photo: Mizzi Engleng  

Following the alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl and molestation of two women of the same family, an umbrella organisation of various community groups has planned a public agitation in Karbi Anglong district, 200 km west of Assam’s capital Guwahati.

The People’s Coordination Committee (PCC) is expected to block the rail line between Dimapur in Nagaland and Guwahati on Tuesday. In the past two days, there have been massive protests across the hilly district. The district administration and the army set up committees for inquiries into the incident.

Tens of thousands of Karbis and members of other communities of Karbi Anglong have been protesting for nearly a week, demanding the arrest of army personnel who allegedly raped the girl on April 6.

The locals said the jawans also molested the girl’s mother (38) and grandmother (55) as they tried to rescue the teenager.

The incident took place in Sarthe Tokbi, a village under the Dokmoka police station, 80 km south-west of Diphu, the Karbi Anglong district headquarters. A village-level worker of the ICDS was also “roughed up” by the soldiers, while another three-year-old infant received several blows from a rifle butt. The medical and forensic test reports are awaited.

While the communities observed a 24-hour bandh in Karbi Anglong on Saturday, a day before students, youths, various community groups and civil society organisations staged a protest outside the District Commissioner’s office, the locals told The Hindu .

“Firing added fuel to fire”

“We were shocked when the police opened fire on Friday’s demonstration, when ordinary citizens and schoolchildren were protesting against the rape of a minor and molestation of many women. At least eight persons were injured, and this added fuel to the fire,” said Pankaj Teron, an official of the Karbi Human Rights Watch, a representative body of the PCC.

“We have decided to block the rail line between Guwahati and Dimapur on Tuesday. We have called a meeting of all the organisations attached to the PCC to decide whether the blockade will continue indefinitely or for a limited period,” he said. The PCC would step up the protest if the accused were not arrested within the next three days.

District Commissioner Mukul Gogoi, however, said the administration had a meeting with the civil society groups on Sunday and assured them of “prompt action.”

“Citizen’s forums have agreed to call off Tuesday’s blockade as we have done everything from our side,” said Mr. Gogoi.

“Additional DC Ms. Hunmili Teronpi is leading the inquiry and will look into the charges registered under Sections of the Acts [The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, and Section 376 of the IPC] so far,” Mr. Gogoi said.

However, Mr Gogoi did not deny the police firing. “The crowd burnt down the sentry post of the [army] camp in Dokmoka. Policemen and army personnel were also injured, and stones were hurled so we had to resort to firing to disperse the crowd. Another inquiry by an Additional District Magistrate has been ordered (to look into the firing),” he said.

The Karbis are the main tribal group of the west-central district of Assam, Karbi Anglong, administered under provisions of the Constitution’s Sixth Schedule.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2020 8:56:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/protest-snowballs-against-army-in-karbi-anglong-after-rape-of-minor/article7096477.ece

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