|The remains of the Tata Winger that was set on fire at Kachumari in Goalpara district on Saturday and (below) GNC members block a road at Kardang. Pictures by UB Photos
Goalpara, Oct. 20: Violence has erupted in Assam’s Goalpara district following the announcement of elections to the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council with supporters of the Garo National Council (GNC) setting four vehicles ablaze and partially burning three schools in the district.
The GNC has also called an indefinite strike demanding the exclusion of non-Rabha villages from the council area.
Last night, GNC supporters torched a Tata Winger (bearing registration number ML-08C 1233) — coming from Tura in Meghalaya to Goalpara — at Kachumari under Krishnai police station.
This morning, another Tata Winger (bearing registration number AS-21B-0514), going from Krishnai to Williamnagar, was torched at Nabang while a Maruti 800 met a similar fate at Tarengthop on the Assam-Meghalaya border.
Three lower primary schools were also attacked today — Dhupdhara, Tarengthop and Khardang.
Police arrested around 25 people from Hudakona, Kachumari and Jira villages for being involved in the violence.
Following the arrests, thousands of GNC supporters gathered near Krishnai police station. The agitators were prevented from entering the police station and stopped at National Highway 37 where they started throwing stones at the police. To control the situation, the police fired rubber bullets and lathicharged the crowd. Five persons were injured and a few vehicles were damaged in the incident.
The situation in the district has taken a turn for the worse with non-Rabha organisations opposing the three-phase elections to the council announced by the state election commission on Friday.
The Non Rabha Co-ordination Forum yesterday said it would oppose the elections unless the council area was properly demarcated.
The All Assam Non-tribal Students’ Union has also lined up a series of protests in the area. Today, union members blocked the Chilaray passenger train at Birpara under Boko police station.
“We are not against the elections. But if non-Rabha villages are not excluded from the proposed Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council, we cannot support the elections,” said Altaf Hussain, the secretary of the union.
“We have been demanding removal of the non-Rabha villages from the Rabha Hasong area for quite some time now. However, the state government has not paid any heed to our demands and instead taken a one-sided decision to hold the council polls, which is condemnable. So, we have resolved to go to any length to stop the elections,” Hussain said.
However, the Garo Students’ Union has welcomed the state election commission’s announcement to hold the polls next month.
“We have no objection to the Rabha Hasong Council elections. The GNC is demanding removal of non-Garo villages from the Rabha Hasong Council area but we don’t support this. The council polls will give the Garo community an opportunity to take part in polls that will pave the way for progress,” said Frylin R. Marak, president of the students’ union’s Assam unit.