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Hundreds join Absu protest
- Union demands action against police officials inactive during riots

Kokrajhar, Sept. 3: Braving inclement weather, hundreds joined a dharna staged by the Udalguri district unit of the All Bodo Students’ Union (Absu) at the deputy commissioner’s office in Udalguri, demanding action against two police officials for their alleged indifference during the widespread clashes last month.

The Absu held subdivisional police officer (SDPO) S. Ali Ahmed and officer-in-charge (OC) of Mazbat police station Jatin Dutta responsible for the clashes in the district, which subsequently led to the administration imposing shoot-at-sight orders in the three districts of Udalguri, Darrang and Sonitpur.

The order has since been lifted. The violence left seven dead and dozens injured.

The protesters submitted a memorandum to chief secretary P.C. Sharma through the deputy commissioner, George Basumatary.

The Absu alleged that the two officers were responsible for escalation of violence between religious communities in Udalguri, Darrang and Sonitpur districts.

The students union also accused the police officer of creating trouble in some villages on the pretext of tracing bodies.

“The SDPO was a mute spectator when activists of the Muslim Students’ Union of Assam armed with lethal weapons butchered one person and seriously injured five others, besides two television journalists whose video camera and motorbikes were damaged,” president of Udalguri unit, Babul Basumatary, said.

He said the SDPO also did not spare journalists and snatched away video cassettes from a few journalists.

The cassettes contained the footage of the clashes showing the SDPO just watching from a distance, Basumatary said.

“Had the officer carried out his duty sincerely the ugly situation would not have occurred and many lives could have been saved,” he said.

“There is a strong allegation from various quarters that Ahmed is targeting only the innocent villagers of Bodo community, which has created a tense atmosphere in the district,” the Absu leader said.

The students’ union also demanded immediate suspension of Mazbat OC for his indifferent attitude in bringing the situation under control at Joradia (Gerubari) on 26 August where one person was killed and another injured.

The Absu accused the officer of trying to “hide true facts” instead of trying to trace out the culprits responsible for the incident. The students’ union also accused him of compelling Onam Basumatary’s widow to admit that her husband was killed after being hit by a moving train contradicting the statement given by the injured person, Khagen Basumatary.

Besides removal of the two officers, the union also demanded a high-level inquiry into the incident leading to the violence, immediate booking of the culprits involved in the incident, posting of adequate forces in the district.

Compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the next of kin of Onam Basumatary and others were also the union’s other demands.

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