Other States

Activists turned away from Assam border

They were headed for detention centre being built in Matia

The Assam police on Friday prevented a 17-member team, comprising activists from eight States, from visiting a detention camp for foreigners here.

The team had set off from Raj Ghat in Delhi on February 23 and reached Srirampur on the Assam-West Bengal border around 1 p.m. on Friday. The bus was intercepted by scores of police and paramilitary personnel as soon as it entered Kokrajhar district from the border check gate.

The activists, including Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey, had launched the ‘Delhi to Detention Centre’ trip under the banner of “Sambidhan Bachao, Nagarikta Bachao, Bharat Banao Yatra”.

Their mission was to visit the new detention centre being built at Matia in Assam’s Goalpara district, and build a human chain near it.

“We had given the district authorities in Assam prior information about the visit, but the police said they had orders to make us return. We told them to arrest us, but they detained and released us around 5 p.m. after a medical test,” Faisal Khan of Khudai Khidmatgaar told The Hindu from Siliguri in West Bengal. The team also included members of the Socialist Party India, National Alliance of People’s Movements and Justice Forum Assam.

The police said the team was denied entry as their presence in the State would have vitiated peace and tranquillity. Besides, prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC had been imposed in Kokrajhar, adjoining Dhubri and Goalpara districts.

“The team’s presence could have disturbed the fragile balance among the communities. The Deputy Commissioner issued an order and we acted accordingly,” said Anurag Agarwal, the Inspector General of Police for Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts.

Kokrajhar SP Rakesh Roushan said the activists were told not to go ahead with their visit but they did not listen.

“All we wanted to see was a building. Why are they so afraid?” Mr. Pandey said.

Mr. Khan said the team will visit Assam again with an order from the court to “find out if Prime Minister Narendra Modi was right about claiming there is no detention centre at Matia”.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 9:54:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/activists-turned-away-from-assam-border/article30946794.ece

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