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Strike cripples Upper Assam

- Protest against cpi-ml leader murder gains momentum

Jorhat, March 29: The 12-hour Assam strike called today by the CPI (M-L) was near total and peaceful in the five Upper Assam districts of the state. Long-distance buses and other vehicles remained off the roads while business establishments also downed their shutters.

The Ledo-Dibrugarh Express was stopped for more than two hours at Panitola in Tinsukia district by picketeers from 9.30am. CPI (M-L) cadres and their supporters also blocked National Highway 37 for about an hour at there.

The strike call came in wake of the alleged murder of CPI (M-L) state committee member and Assam Sangrami Chah Shramik Sangha general secretary Gangaram Koul near Panitola tea garden in Tinsukia district on Monday night.

Subhash Sen, standing committee member of the state unit of the CPI (M-L), while thanking the people of the state for supporting the strike call, told this correspondent that many tea gardens in Upper Assam districts remained closed in response to the call.

“People have supported our cause for a CBI inquiry to find out and book the culprits who killed Koul for raising his voice against largescale corruption in PDS and gaon panchayats. Our movement will continue,” he said.

The criminal investigation department (CID) of Assam police will probe the alleged murder, which has thrown up the name of Chabua Congress legislator Raju Sahu as one of the perpetrators.

BJP state president Sarbananda Sonowal said in Tezpur today the investigation of the murder of Gangaram Koul has to be conducted by a judge instead of the CID as instructed by the chief minister since it was a cold-blooded political murder.

Sonowal, while addressing a meeting of the BJP Yuba Manch organised by Sonitpur west committee at Tezpur District Library auditorium, added that the name of an MLA was mentioned in the FIR, so the investigation must be done by a judge of Gauhati High Court.

PCC spokesperson Mehdi Alam Bora today condemned the “dastardly” killing while welcoming the government’s decision to order a CID probe into the incident.

The strike also hit Karbi Anglong. Supporters of the CPI (M-L) damaged three vehicles, including a health department ambulance, in the heart of Diphu town early this morning.

No other incident was, however, reported. The impact of the strike was partial in two central Assam districts — Nagaon and Morigaon.