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Cops cane KMSS protesters

- Akhil supporters allege anomalies in Titabar, govt claims excesses by activists

Jorhat, Feb. 3: Police today fired tear gas shells and caned Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti activists who were protesting against alleged financial anomalies in Titabar sub-division of Jorhat district, at Titabar town. A few protesters and two policemen received minor injuries.

Besides the protest against irregularities, especially in the Rs 100-crore water supply scheme implemented by the public health engineering department, the KMSS activists also demanded that the government give pattas to landless people in Titabar.

KMSS general secretary Akhil Gogoi, who led the protesters, and its joint secretary Vedanta Laskar, were arrested. They were released in the evening after being kept on the office campus of the Titabar sub-divisional officer (civil) for about four hours.

The protest was organised in chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s constituency when he was here to attend the last rites of his younger brother Tapan Gogoi, an advocate, who passed away last night at Jorhat Medical College and Hospital. The chief minister attended the funeral at Tarajan crematorium during the day.

Akhil, after his release, told The Telegraph that the Tarun Gogoi government was trying to “suppress the voice” of the people to shield corruption. He said the police had used “brute force” on protesters, 16 of whom were injured and taken to hospital.

Akhil blamed the situation on the administration’s refusal to accept the memorandum the KMSS wanted to submit to the government through the Titabar sub-divisional officer (civil) Roshni A. Korati.

“We requested the SDO (civil) to come out of her office chamber and accept the memorandum or depute a subordinate, but she refused to do so,” the KMSS leader alleged.

He said after waiting from 11am till 2.30pm, the protesters wanted to enter the SDO office campus to submit the memorandum but were prevented by police personnel, who fired tear gas shells and beat up the activists. “Laskar and I were kept inside the SDO (civil) (campus) and our members were arrested and taken to Titabar police station as they had blocked the Titabar-Borhola Tinali to protest our detention,” Akhil said.

Korati denied the allegations. She said she had deputed executive magistrate Jayanta Goswami, who was “all along on the spot”, to receive the memorandum but Akhil and his supporters refused to hand it to him and stuck to their demand of her going out of the office and accepting it. “According to government orders, the deputy commissioner and SDO (civil) are not supposed to go out of their office chamber to accept memoranda. The two officials can depute their subordinates,” Korati said.

She said a mild lathicharge was ordered as the protesters tried to break through the gate of the SDO office and forcibly enter the campus. She said the protesters had hurled stones on security force personnel and tear gas shells had to be fired to bring the situation under control.

Jorhat superintendent of police Amanjeet Kaur said the police had “exercised much restraint” but had to resort to a mild lathicharge as the protesters turned violent and threw stones on policemen, wanting to enter the SDO office campus by force.

Kaur said the protest was illegal as the KMSS had not taken prior permission to stage it though Section 144 CrPC was in force. Akhil and his co-protesters were arrested for violating Section 144 CrPC. They were later released on bail, she added.