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Man killed in eviction drive

- Dibrugarh DC says cops opened fire in self-defence

Jorhat, Jan 2: A man was killed and four others, including a woman, were injured in police firing when clashes broke out during an eviction drive in the Sapori area under Joypur police station in Dibrugarh district today.

The police were accompanying a team of government officials to evict illegal settlers from the site, nearly 60km from Dibrugarh town.

The victim has been identified as Sriram Shah, 45, who died of his injuries at Joypur public health centre.

The injured — Raj Kishore Bind, 60, Ramni Bind, 49, Surendra Bind, 24, and Chandra Mahato, 38, — are being treated at Assam Medical College and Hospital (AMCH), Dibrugarh. The condition of Raj Kishore is said to be critical.

Naharkatia circle officer Manoj Baruah, who led the team, havildar Binanda Hazarika and constable Jayanta Hazarika were also injured. They have also been referred to AMCH.

Dibrugarh deputy commissioner Aruna Rajoria told The Telegraph that the official team, comprising civil staff and policemen, came under attack when they went to evict squatters from non-cadastral government land (meaning land which has not been surveyed).

She said police had to fire in self-defence.

Rajoria said a magisterial inquiry had been ordered into the incident. Additional deputy commissioner Bhaskar Pegu has been directed to probe the circumstances leading to the incident.

Circle officer Baruah, who received injuries on his head and hands, told this correspondent that he was “lucky” to have survived as protesters (including women) armed with sticks and sharp weapons attacked the team without any provocation around 1pm before the eviction drive started.

He said policemen fired at the mob after coming under severe attack. Baruah said the team had gone to evict about 25 families, who had built illegal dwellings on government land.

“We have been serving notices to illegal settlers for a year to vacate the land measuring about 70 hectares, but the occupants did not heed it and, hence today we decided to carry out the eviction today,” the circle officer said.

Denying that the administration had used force, he said such a situation did not arise as “before we asked them (settlers) to vacate voluntarily, they attacked us”.

Protesters burned tyres and blocked the main road of Joypur town after the incident. Dibrugarh superintendent of police Rana Bhuyan told this correspondent that the situation was “under control” now. Bhuyan said additional police were rushed to the site of the incident and a close watch being maintained.

Assam parliamentary secretary Atuwa Munda told The Telegraph that it was an unfortunate incident. He said the government had asked for the details of the incident from the administration. “Already the district administration has ordered a magisterial probe into the incident. The government will take necessary action after examining the report,” Munda said.

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