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Violence mars council strike

Dhubri, Jan. 3: A motorcycle was torched, a car damaged and an attempt was made to burn down the Bamunigaon panchayat office in Assam’s Rabha-Hasong Autonomous Council (RHAC) areas during a 36-hour general strike that started today.

The strike was called by 34 organisations, led by All Rabha Students Union (Arsu), demanding elections to the council and cancellation of the state panchayat elections declared last month.

A police source in Goalpara said a bike was torched at Borbhita on NH37, while strike supporters hurled stones and damaged a car at Dudhnoi in the district today. A group of unidentified men also made an unsuccessful attempt to torch the Bamunigaon gaon panchayat office in Kamrup district last night.

The strike also paralysed life in Goalpara and parts of Kamrup district as vehicles remained off the road, including National Highways 37, 62 and 51, the source said.

Arsu president Tonkeswar Rabha, while thanking people for their support, said a janajagaran (mass awareness) meeting with all communities regarding the agitation would be held at Boko and Dhupdhara on January 6 and 7 respectively.

“We will organise the meetings to make people aware of our reasons for demanding council elections and cancellation of panchayat polls. After this, a mass rally will be held at Dudhnoi on January 11,” Rabha said.

Arsu sources said the government had constituted the Rabha-Hasong Autonomous Council ad hoc body with 779 villages in 1995 in order to protect the political rights and for socio-economic uplift of Rabha and Hasong people living in Goalpara and Kamrup districts. In the notification about formation of the council, it was stated that elections would be held within six months from the day of formation of the ad hoc body. Though 18 years have elapsed, no election to the council has been held, the sources added.

On June 12 last year, in response to a writ petition filed by the community’s leaders, Gauhati High Court had show-caused Assam government asking for the reason behind the 17-year delay in holding elections to the council.


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