|Policemen arrest KMSS president Akhil Gogoi at Dispur Last Gate in Guwahati on Tuesday.
Picture by UB Photos
Guwahati, Oct. 1: Police today resorted to caning to disperse KMSS supporters staging protests over people’s land rights at different places here, resurrecting images similar to those witnessed by the city about two years ago. They also used tear gas and water cannons at Khanapara.
At least 20 demonstrators, led by Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti president Akhil Gogoi, were injured and many were arrested for staging the protest despite Kamrup (metro) administration denying permission on Sunday.
Senior superintendent of police (city) A.P. Tiwari said 94 protesters were arrested from 13 places.
The KMSS protesters, who were demanding land rights for people living in the city’s hills, beels (wetland) and government land, staged protests at various places, including Dispur Last Gate, Lalmati, Khanapara and Basistha, since morning. Dispur had recently accepted a proposal for giving one-and-half kothas of land to landless people living on hills and government land but had said it would not allow people to occupy the city’s hills, forests and beels (wetland). The land would be given elsewhere. Around one lakh people live on 11 hills in and around Guwahati.
This morning, Akhil was sitting outside the gate of the state secretariat with hundreds of supporters when security forces, led by Tiwari and additional superintendent of police (traffic) Amandeep Kaur, asked them to vacate the place. When they did not comply, the officials ordered lathicharge. The police and CRPF personnel also chased a group of KMSS supporters and hill-dwellers, who were marching towards Dispur Last Gate, near the secretariat, with banners in hands.
As the security forces punched Akhil and tried to pull him into a bus, his three personal security officers (all Assam police special branch havildars) intervened. They were also beaten up and received injuries. Akhil had been provided three PSOs in December 2012 after some people barged into his rented house here and assaulted him.
One of the injured PSOs, Jiten Rabha, told The Telegraph, “I tried to stop a policeman as he punched Akhil. Despite knowing that I am also a policeman, additional SP Amandeep Kaur caught me by the collar and beat me up. The CRPF personnel, who were acting under her command, also beat me up. I can’t understand why I was beaten up as I have been deployed to guard Akhil Gogoi.” Kaur said the PSOs were beaten up as they tried to guard Akhil even after he was placed “under arrest”.
A similar protest by the KMSS in front of the secretariat on June 22, 2011 had turned violent after the police opened fire to control the mob, killing three persons, including a nine-year-old student.
In Dhemaji, KMSS members blocked NH52 between 1pm and 4pm to protest Akhil’s arrest. Communication was restored after police intervention.