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Cops fire at Darrang mob

Tezpur, Feb. 28: At least two persons were injured when police fired rubber bullets to disperse protesters in the Naharbari area of Mangaldoi in Darrang district today during the 12-hour strike called by the All Assam Muslim Yuba Parishad.

The strike was called to protest yesterday’s incident at Kalaigaon where 13 people from the minority community were attacked by a group of villagers on night patrol at Udmari village near Mangaldoi. The villagers had suspected the victims — who were returning from a religious meet at Outala-Bechimari near Udmari — to be cow thieves.

The parishad had demanded that the attackers be arrested. So far, 14 people involved in yesterday’s attack have been arrested, Assam home commissioner G.D. Tripathi said today.

The two persons injured in today’s firing have been referred to Gauhati Medical College and Hospital.

“Two persons were injured after the police fired rubber bullets and used the cane to disperse bandh supporters who vandalised a shop that was open in the Naharbari area,” Darrang superintendent of police G.V. Sivaprasad told The Telegraph.

In another incident, deputy superintendent of police (headquarters) Debranjan Sarma was manhandled by a mob when he tried to disperse bandh supporters near Mangaldoi circuit house. Sarma’s vehicle was also damaged.

Protesters burned tyres and blocked National Highway 15 at Bordoulguri and Aula Chowka this morning.

Curfew had been imposed in Kalaigaon yesterday after violence escalated when a mob torched vehicles and people from the victims’ community gheraoed a police station demanding immediate arrest of the attackers.

“Curfew is still on at 25 sensitive villages of Kalaigaon. The situation as of now is under control. However, if the situation improves tomorrow, curfew may be lifted,” Darrang deputy commissioner M.S. Manivannan said.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi today expressed regret over the Kalaigaon incident and said the situation in Darrang was fully under control.

The Assam home commissioner today said they were keeping a close watch on the situation and all necessary steps, including sending additional forces, were being taken to prevent any escalation of tension.

At a public meeting at the Darrang deputy commissioner’s office this afternoon, the district administration, along with various other organisations, constituted a peace committee to build confidence and trust among the people.