| A book stall damaged by bandh supporters in Tinsukia.
Picture by Amrit Sarma |
Dibrugarh, Sept. 20: The 12-hour bandh in Upper Assam called by the Gorkha Students Union to demand the release of planter Ajay Kumar Subba was marked by sporadic incidents of stone-throwing and violent attempts to enforce the strike.
The union called bandh since 5 this morning in the three Upper Assam districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Sivasagar. Subba, the nephew of former Congress MP Mani Kumar Subba, was abducted on Tuesday. Apart from being a planter, he is an important leader of his community, the chief adviser to the students’ union and secretary of Asom Gorkha Sanmelan.
Hundreds of activists and supporters of the union today attacked business establishments, including newspaper shops, in Tinsukia town to enforce the bandh.
Things took a turn for the worse in Tinsukia town at around 9.15 this morning when the activists and their supporters, allegedly in an inebriated condition, attacked one of the oldest newspaper agencies in Tinsukia town, Puthi Bharal, at the Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) bus station.
“The activists came, damaged the furniture and tore up newspapers. They even looted cash and two mobile phones from my employees. Surprisingly, the policemen stood like mute spectators when the activists were vandalising my shop. It was later, because of public pressure that they picked up the activists and took them away in a bus,” Rupak Sarma, the owner of the agency, said.
Sarma later filed an FIR with the Tinsukia Sadar police station, based on which police registered a case (No. 606) and booked several activists and supporters of the union.
The incident was condemned by various organisations, including the Upper Assam Newspaper Distribution Association, which appealed to all newspapers and editors not to carry any press release or statement issued by the union in the future.
The police later rounded up 52 activists and supporters of the union for vandalising public property and creating lawlessness in Tinsukia town during the bandh. They were, however, released in the evening.
In other parts of the district, the police rounded up several activists and supporters of the union who tried to enforce the bandh.
In Doomdooma town, the police had to resort to a mild baton charge to disperse bandh supporters who were trying to attack business outlets and shops. Around 150 activists and supporters were rounded up.
There was no impact of the bandh in Dibrugarh and Sivasagar towns and everything, including banks, post offices, government offices and educational institutions, functioned normally.
All Assam Gorkha Students Union president Krishna Newar, who, too, was detained by the police in Namtola in Sivasagar district, said the union would intensify its agitation if Subba was not released.