Assam lynching: Police lathicharge as protest turns violent

Guwahati:Thousands of protesters on June 10 gathered at the Gauhati Commerce College and blocked the busy RG Baruah Road for nearly three hours, leading to massive traffic jam.

The protesters, demanding speedy justice against lynching of two youths in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district on Friday night, were subjected to mild lathicharge by the police.

“Till the time they were peaceful, we had no objection and allowed them to express their feelings. But as it was already around three hours of protest in the form of road blockade, we requested them to leave in the evening and most of the agitators had left,” Deputy Commissioner (Central) of Guwahati Police Ranjan Bhuyan said.

However, around hundred protesters refused to leave the spot and even started drinking alcohol on the road, he said, adding they threw stones and bottles on policemen.

“We had no option but to use mild lathicharge to disperse them,” Bhuyan said.

Stones and other items were also thrown at media persons present there, but no immediate report of any injury has been received.

Guwahati Police Commissioner Hiren Chandra Nath said “some people” called him last night to tell him about their plans to hold the protest and a candle light procession, but that was an “informal intimation”.

“Policemen were present at the spot. We are not objecting to their protest as long as they are peaceful. This is a very sensitive matter and people are emotional,” he said.

Nath said three persons have been picked up and their role was being probed.

The call for the protest was given by a Facebook group ‘Justice for Nilotpal and Abhijeet’. The group was started on Saturday with nearly 60,000 people joining it within 24 hours.

Two friends, Nilotpal Das and Abhijeet Nath, had gone to a picnic spot Kangthilangso in Karbi Anglong on Friday and while returning, their vehicle was stopped at Panjuri by a mob that pulled them out and beat them to death on the suspicion that they were child lifters.

One of the women protesters said, “We have come out not only for demanding justice for Nilotpal and Abhijeet alone, but for all who have been victims of any kind of suspicion. And this case should not continue for one or two years. We want speedy justice.”

Another protester Wasim Ahmed said, “First, we demand that the trial be done in a fast track court. Secondly, we want that the deputy commissioner who made an irresponsible statement be sacked immediately. Thirdly, an Act should be brought in to deal with such cases.”

Karbi Anglong Deputy Commissioner Mridul Kumar Mahanta had reportedly said that the two should have informed the police before visiting the picturesque district, which is in central Assam.

A student of Gauhati University said, “If Assamese people are not safe in Assam, where will we go? This cannot go on. The culprits must get exemplary punishment.”

Protests have taken place against the killing at various places across the state.

The All Assam Students’ Union, Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad and Karbi Students’ Association protested at Dokmoka police station, under the jurisdiction of which the incident site falls.

Protests also took place in other places like Numaligarh and Diphu.

Meanwhile, a magisterial inquiry has been ordered to find out if there were any lapses on the part of the police with regard to the incident, following reports that a “policeman” was seen recording video clips of the incident.

Karbi Angong Deputy Commissioner has entrusted Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Junumoni Sonowal with carrying out the inquiry, the order said.

“Unconfirmed reports have been received that a person in khaki, suspected to be a police official, was seen taking video clips of the incident,” the order said.

The ADC has also been asked to ascertain the identity of the person who allegedly recorded video clips of the incident and submit a report within a week.

The order said it would have to be found out why the police took so much time to reach the spot and in spite of rumours of child-lifting, why they did not take extra precaution for people’s safety as well as in anticipation of any untoward incident.

The Guwahati police commissioner and officials of the Kamrup Metropolitan district administration held a meeting wherein they asked the police to remain alert and ensure steps to prevent any untoward incident in the district.

Following the incident, the Hailakandi district administration has also asked the people to remain alert against forces seeking to create disturbance in the society.

(The Week)

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