Goalpara, Oct. 23: Supporters of the 96-hour strike threw stones at two vehicles and attempted to set another on fire in three separate locations in Goalpara district today.
The Non-Rabha Co-ordination Forum and the All Assam Non Tribal Students' Union have called the strike in Goalpara and Kamrup districts in protest against the announcement of elections to the Rabha-Hasong council without excluding the non-Rabha villages from the area.
Early this morning, strike supporters attacked two newspaper vehicles at Krishnai, 35km from here, and at Bhalukdubi, 5km from Goalpara, partly damaging them.
In the afternoon, a section also tried to set afire another van, hired by some strike supporters, after causing damage to the vehicle near Goalpara police station.
However, police rushed to the spot and stopped them. Miscreants also damaged a bike at Tilapara, under Lakhipur police station.
In another incident, goons attacked some daily labourers of a rubber garden at Bhalukdubi while they were at work. “A group of unidentified men came and attacked us and broke our bicycles when we were working in the garden. We are daily-wage labourers and if we do not work even for one day it becomes hard for us to make ends meet. Therefore, we are compelled to work. What have we done wrong?” asked one of the injured labourers. They were admitted to Goalpara civil hospital.
The strike affected normal life in both districts with offices, educational institutions, business centres remaining closed and vehicles staying off the road. The incidents have prompted the Goalpara district administration to take strict measures to prevent a repeat in the next three days.
The non-Rabha organisations are firm on their demands. “We have no objections against the council elections but we can never support the polls if the non-tribal villages are not removed from the Rabha Hasong area. If the villages are not deleted then the non-tribals will live as second-class citizens in the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council, which we can never tolerate. Moreover, in some villages of the council, non-tribal citizens have been denied the right to vote. Therefore, we will go to any length to stop the council election,” said Altaf Hussain, secretary of the All Assam Non-Tribal Students’ Union.
The Rabha Hasong Joint Movement Forum which had spearheaded the movement for council polls, will field their candidates in all the 36 council seats, a source said.
The Congress tonight finalised the list of 36 candidates for elections at back-to-back meetings convened by PCC president Bhubaneswar Kalita, first at his residence and then at Rajiv Bhawan. Elections will be held on November 13, 16 and 25.
PCC general secretary (in charge of Goalpara DCC) Ramesh Jain said the process of selecting candidates involved himself, ministers Rajiv Lochan Pegu, Nilamani Sen Deka, Kamrup DCC president H. Kalita, and Goalghat DCC chief A.R. Mandal.
The Congress’s sitting Dudhnoi MLA S. Basumatary will be the working president of the election campaign committee after DCC president Mandal goes abroad on November 20.
There are 16 seats in Kamrup and 20 in Golaghat districts respectively.