| A jawan stands guard during the 36-hour strike in Goalpara on Tuesday. Picture by UB Photos |
Dhubri, March 19: A Tata Sumo was torched and a police official injured when supporters of the 36-hour Goalpara district general strike at Pancharatna under Kharmuja police outpost of Goalpara district clashed with the police today.
Officer-in charge of Kharmuja police outpost, Marmuj Ali, was injured when nearly 500 strike supporters staging a blockade on the road allegedly attacked the security forces.
A source in Pancharatna said the situation turned violent when the police tried to clear the road for vehicles. The supporters then attacked a Tata Sumo at Pancharatna about 300 metres away from Naranaryan Setu and set it ablaze. The driver of the car was also injured in the attack.
Police later had to fire blank shots in the air to disperse the mob. With the arrival of additional forces and senior police officials, a semblance of normalcy returned.
The source also said the strike supporters targeted the convoy of MP S.K. Bwiswmuthiary, which went past a few seconds ago. But the Tata Sumo following the convoy was caught in the melee and torched.
The 36-hour strike was called by non-Rabha and non-tribal organisations under the Non-Rabha Co-ordination Forum (NRCF) to register its protest against the inclusion of non-Rabha and non-tribal dominated villages in the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council. They demanded the exclusion of the names of 394 villages dominated by non-Rabha, non-tribal and Garo population from the draft of villages in the council, the preparation for which is under way.
When contacted, president of the forum, Shajahan Ali, strongly condemned the police action on the strike supporters. “We do not believe in violence and so we are condemning it strongly. But the police has no business trying to foil the strike and encourage the vehicles to ply when the drivers were not willing to move. The police applied force and this enraged the strike supporters and they turned violent,” Ali said.
Ali said there are 91 villages where a majority of the residents are non-tribals and 98 villages where Garos are in a majority in Goalpara, while there are 118 non-tribal villages and 87 Garo villages in Kamrup district.
The forum strongly objected to the inclusion of these villages in the draft published by the government for delimitation of villages on February 20 and also demanded amendment of land laws enacted in 2001 and 2005 by the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council.
Goalpara additional SP Sushanta Biswa Sarma said the injured Marmuj Ali had been admitted to Goalpara civil hospital. Security forces had to fire three rounds of rubber bullets to disperse the strike supporters, he added.
The mob also set fire to a motorbike and truck at Kumri.
under Naranarayan setu and Bhalukdubi respectively in the district and continue to hurl stones on the every vehicles and motor bikes passing by the Durga Moandir area at the outskirt of Goalpara town.
The bandh, however, total in the non-Rabha dominated area of Goalpara district including Goalpara, head quarter of the district.
However, with the spread of news of vehicle torching, hundreds of Guwahati bound heavy vehicles via Naranarayan setu remained stranded at Jogighopa of Bongaigaon district.