|A deserted street in Baksa district on Tuesday, the second day of the 48-hour strike called by Absu. (PTI)
Aug. 6: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi has invited three organisations for talks on the statehood demand in Guwahati tomorrow, a gesture which most believe has led the groups to either reduce or suspend their agitation programmes which have kept the state on the boil since last week.
The three groups invited separately for talks are the AKRSU in the morning, followed by Absu and the Bodo National Conference (BNC) in the evening.
“The chief minister will be meeting the three groups at his residence tomorrow. It is his way of reaching out to the aggrieved groups. Karbi groups will also be invited,” Bharat Chandra Narah, press adviser to the chief minister, told The Telegraph.
Karbi groups were not invited because most of their leaders are in Delhi, sources said.
There was no report of any major incident from either BTAD or Bongaigaon or Karbi Anglong. Most linked the suspension of the United Democratic People’s Front (UDPF)’s ongoing 1,500-hour Assam strike from 8am tomorrow demanding creation of Bodoland, AKRSU’s scaling down its 36-hour strike to 30 hours and Absu’s 60-hour strike to 48 hours to “backroom negotiations”.
The talks invite comes amid criticism from the Opposition that Gogoi was allegedly not doing enough to contain the situation. The invite also followed Gogoi’s August 4 announcement that Dispur was willing to talk with the protesters if they shun the path of violence.
Assam governor Janaki Ballav Patnaik, who was briefed about the latest law and order situation in the state by state government officials at Raj Bhavan today, has urged the protesters to respond to the call given by Gogoi for talks without imposing any pre-condition.
He expressed concern over the prevailing situation and made an appeal to the agitating people to eschew violence and call off the strikes, which are causing immense inconvenience to the people.
UDPF president Prodeep Kumar Daimary said the 1,500-hour strike was suspended following an “assurance” from the Union home ministry to invite the NDFB (P) for talks on statehood.
The strike started yesterday. He also said the home ministry has expressed its willingness to invite the Ranjan Daimary faction of the outfit to find a solution.
Business establishments, including markets, shops and banks, remained closed during the second day of Absu strike. Hundreds of trucks and other vehicles were stranded at various places because of the blockade in Kokrajhar and other Bodo-inhabited areas.
NDFB (P)’s secretary Govinda Basumatary joined the Absu rally at Barama in Baksa district.
Absu vice-president Jiron Basumatary urged AKRSU president Biswajit Roy and Non-Bodo Suraksha Samity leaders to refrain from speaking against the demand for Bodoland.
Roy and Samity leaders have been vocal against the demand of the Bodoland. The AKRSU leader had termed the Bodos’ demand as unjustified.
On the other hand, the impact of the 1,100-hour long Karbi Anglong strike was partial on its second day today, with district headquarters Diphu, Bokajan and Hamren hardly affected.
The Karbi Peoples Liberation Tigers had called the strike from 5am yesterday in support of a separate state.
Karbi Anglong superintendent of police M.J. Mahanta said a Karbi youth reportedly involved in the recent incidents of violence was arrested from Hauraghat this morning, taking the number of arrested persons to 77.
“The situation is gradually improving. Curfew was relaxed in Diphu town for nine hours since 8am today,” Mahanta said.
The AKRSU’s 36-hour strike, which began yesterday morning seeking a separate Kamatapur, was reduced to 30 hours in view of Id.
The strike that ended at 12 noon was marked by a lathicharge on AKRSU activists belonging to the Hitesh Barman faction enforcing a blockade on NH31 at Kumurigaon in Dhubri district today.
Aggrieved activists later took out a rally and staged a demonstration near Salkocha police outpost.
Dhubri superintendent of police Mridulananda Sarma rushed to the spot and requested the strike enforcers to withdraw the blockade. President of AKRSU’s Dhubri district unit Debesh Roy condemned the “police atrocities” on peaceful protesters.