| Policemen cane a protester in Golaghat on Tuesday. Picture by Ritupallab Saikia |
Golaghat, Aug. 20: Police and CRPF jawans today resorted to a lathicharge and burst tear gas shells to disperse a crowd protesting against financial anomalies by the present management committee of Athkelia namghar (community prayer hall), 20km from here.
More than 500 people hailing from nearby areas of Athkelia namghar, supported by the Jorhat and Golaghat district units of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), today staged a sit-in in front of the deputy commissioner’s office here.
The protesters were demanding dissolution of the present management committee of the namghar within seven days from today. They also demanded a magisterial inquiry into expenditures incurred in the recent renovation of the namghar.
The total cost of renovation came to nearly Rs 2 crore. Twenty villagers of Athkhelia had taken a personal loan of Rs 1 lakh each in the initial stages of the renovation in a rare instance when personal loans were sought for public work.
Initially, the demonstration was peaceful. A five-member delegation of the protesters had a discussion with deputy commissioner of Golaghat Julie Sonowal in her chamber. But when the demonstrators came to know that negotiations had failed, they gave an ultimatum of five minutes to Sonowal to come out of her office failing which they threatened to break the barricade.
After five minutes, the protesters turned violent and started throwing stones and bottles at the police and CRPF personnel.
A bottle hit the deputy superintendent of police, Budheswar Khaklari, injuring him in his right eye. After that the police resorted to lathicharge to disperse the mob. To control the situation, the police also burst tear gas shells.
Officer-in-charge of Golaghat police station Dilip Saikia said 25 people, including the president of the KMSS’s Golaghat district unit, Dharmeswar Saikia, were arrested.
“During the discussion I had assured them of looking into the matter and asked them to wait till this holy month of Bhada went off. As far as dissolving the management committee of the namghar is concerned, I have no role in it,” Sonowal said.
Atul Bora, executive president of the AGP, condemned today’s lathicharge.