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BJP protest triggers firing

Guwahati, March 15: Pre-poll violence assumed a new meaning in Assam with security personnel assigned to BJP leader V. Satish opening fire on dissidents and injuring two during a protest in Guwahati against selection of party candidates.

The incident last evening was a warning for all political parties that have been facing daily protests by supporters of deprived and likely-to-be-deprived ticket-seekers.

But no one in the BJP was perhaps prepared for the massive protest by supporters of two ticket-seekers from Hajo and Morigaon. Police said a 200-strong mob raided the party’s office and heckled Satish, the central BJP leader in charge of the party’s Northeast units, forcing his personal security officers to fire three rounds in “self-defence”.

State BJP president Indramoni Bora said the dissenters even tried to set the party office ablaze.

Apart from Morigaon and Hajo, the party is facing rebellion in Kamalpur and constituencies of the Barak Valley. The group from Morigaon laid siege to the BJP office in Guwahati around 3 pm, demanding that their leader, Lakhi Mahanta, be nominated. The party leadership chose Robin Nath instead of Mahanta for the seat.

Trouble started when the group was joined by disgruntled party workers from Hajo, who were demanding a ticket for Bhupesh Malakar in place of party vice-president Dhruba Prasad Baishya. Three persons were arrested for the mob frenzy. Additional superintendent of police (city) Rajen Singh said the guards had to open fire to save Satish.

Sudhir Das, a retired teacher from Hajo, described the incident as the “dirty side of politics”. His student, 21-year-old Bhabesh Malakar, came in the line of fire and is now fighting for his life in the intensive care unit of Gauhati Medical College and Hospital.

“Bhabesh and some other workers of the Hajo unit of the BJP had come to the party’s office in the city only to inquire why Baishya was given the ticket to contest the Assembly poll from Hajo. Baishya has neither visited Hajo nor worked for the people till this day. When party workers raised the issue, the top brass of the BJP decided to crush them, which led to the firing,” he said.

The condition of Basanta Das, 36, who took bullets in his stomach, is stated to be stable.

The BJP announced another list of five candidates this evening, taking its tally to 65. The party has pitted Pranjal Bharali against Congress president Bhubaneswar Kalita in Rangia, while Karobi Chakravarty is the nominee for Titabor, chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s constituency.

Supporters of education minister Hem Prakash Narayan, who was not renominated by the Congress, blocked National Highway 37 in Dergaon for over two hours last night.

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