| File picture of arson during last year’s Barpeta violence |
Guwahati, June 28: The violence during the June 22 KMSS anti-eviction rally here today turned the spotlight on last year’s rally in Barpeta.
The rally had opposed updating of the 1951 National Register of Citizens (NRC) that was followed by chief minister Tarun Gogoi ordering the home department to take action against those involved in crowd trouble that left four dead in police firing.
An agitated Gogoi ordered home secretary G.D. Tripathi, seated next to him at a media conference, to take action against those involved in the Barpeta violence after journalists pointed out that Dispur was adopting double standards while dealing with the KMSS and those who had led the Barpeta rally.
On July 21 last year, at least five persons were killed and more than 50 injured in clashes between the All Assam Minority Students’ Union (Aamsu) activists and police in Barpeta town. Hundreds of Aamsu activists and supporters assembled in front of the deputy commissioner’s office at 11am to take part in a dharna staged to oppose the process of updating the citizen’s roster.
While those who led the agitation were not arrested, 16 others were arrested and 11 cases registered. Sources, however, said those arrested were injured during the clashes with the police and were in hospital at the time of their arrest. “They were released later on bail on health grounds,” a source said.
He also said the focus of the police was then more on preventing any communal backlash, which had seemed a possibility rather than looking for the leaders who had fled.
Gogoi was going all out against Akhil Gogoi, saying he would talk to those directly affected by eviction rather than the KMSS leader who, he alleged, had links with the Maoists and that two members of the KMSS had undergone training in Jharkhand and Orissa.
The chief minister today even went on to dismiss Union home minister P. Chidambaram’s observation that there were no Maoists in Assam. “Forget Chidambaram, I am saying there are Maoists in Assam but under different garbs. Given the conduct, we can infer that Akhil and the KMSS have Maoist links. We will not talk to them,” Gogoi said.
It is here that journalists pointed out that the government had held several meetings with leaders of Aamsu which led the Barpeta rally on the NRC issue and that no visible action was taken against the rioters.
An agitated Gogoi then turned towards Tripathi, ordering action.
Sources in the chief minister’s office said the senior department official had already asked the superintendent of police, Barpeta , to inform him by tomorrow how many cases were registered, how many people arrested and the status of investigation.
“Only the SP was transferred but those who led the rally were not arrested. No big fish like Akhil was arrested though both protests turned violent despite assurances by the rallyists to maintain peace,” one of the sources said.
Abdul Rahim Khan, MLA from Barpeta and secretary of the central committee of AIUDF, said even though Dispur had ordered a judicial inquiry to probe the incident, his party believed that only a CBI inquiry could find out in detail about causes and circumstances that led to the Barpeta violence.
Khan was at the spot when the rally turned violent. “The CBI inquiry will also help detectthe real culprits of the incident,” he said.