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Bandhs disrupt life in Assam

- AASU calls statewide protests today; relatives of victims seek relief

May 5: Two 12-hour bandhs, one a statewide strike called by the Muslim Students’ Union of Assam (Musa) and the other by a conglomerate of 25 organisations in Cachar district to protest the recent killings in BTAD, impacted Assam, totally or partially, today. A few incidents of violence were also reported.

Nikhilesh Yadav was injured when Musa activists threw stones at the Upper Assam-bound truck he was driving at Doboka, 35km from Nagaon town, on National Highway 36 in the morning. Seven persons travelling in other vehicles were also injured. Three Musa activists were hurt when police caned protesters to disperse them.

Elsewhere in the state, too, bandh supporters threw stones at trucks and burnt tyres on national highways to stop the movement of vehicles. In Nagaon, burning of tyres was reported from Dhing Gate, Rangaloo, Dimaruguri and Jajori. On NH31, they stopped trucks and other vehicles near Barpeta Road, Nalbari and Baihata Chariali. At Kakajan near Jorhat, a group of protesters stopped some passenger buses briefly in the morning.

The bandh paralysed life in Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Dibrugarh and Cachar districts with most shops, educational institutions and business establishments remaining shut. Its effect was partial in Bongaigaon and the Upper Assam districts of Jorhat, Sivasagar and Golaghat with only a few shops and educational institutions remaining closed. Public and private vehicles plied on the roads, but less than usual. No untoward incident was reported from Upper Assam. There was no impact of the bandh in Guwahati.

The AIUDF today took out silent processions in Dhubri town and Guwahati. In Dhubri, it submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh through Dhubri deputy commissioner Kumud Chandra Kalita, demanding immediate arrest of those involved in the carnage and seizure of all illegal arms in the BTAD.

The president of the AIUDF’s Dhubri district unit, Aminur Rahman Ahmed, told The Telegraph that they wanted a review of the BTC Accord and fresh creation of the BTAD in line with the Bhupender Singh Committee report which recommends including only those areas where the Bodo population is 50 per cent or more. He also demanded the arrest of BPF legislator Pramila Rani Brahma and other leaders of the party allegedly involved in the killings.

The AIUDF’s press secretary and Dhubri district leader Masud Akhtar Zaman demanded adequate compensation for the victims’ families and added that it must be on a par with that given to victims of anti-Sikh riot in Delhi and Tamils of Sri Lanka by India.

In Cachar district, the Cachar Pratibadi Manch also observed a 12-hour bandh that began at 5am. The other two districts of Barak Valley, Karimganj and Hailakandi, had observed a bandh yesterday. The Manch is a conglomeration of 25 organisations, including the youth and minority wings of the ruling Congress and Opposition AIUDF. The platform demanded, among other things, dismissal of the BTC, arrest of Brahma and compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the next of the kin of the deceased.

At least 32 people have been killed in Kokrajhar and Baksa districts of the BTAD since May 1. While police suspect the hand of the NDFB’s Songbijit faction, many organisations have alleged the involvement of BPF, which rules the Bodoland Territorial Council that governs the BTAD, in the carnage.

The All Assam Students' Union (AASU) has called a “statewide protest” tomorrow against chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s alleged failure to maintain law and order. It demanded immediate seizure of all illegal arms to prevent further violence.

The Oboro Suraksha Samiti has called a 24-hour Assam strike from 6am tomorrow. It is demanding the arrest of Rajya Sabha MP Biswajit Daimary and former minister Pramila Rani Brahma as well as dissolution of the BTAD.

The Asom Sankhalaghu Unnayan Parishad will stage a demonstration in front of the Dhubri deputy commissioner’s office while the Dhubri Bar Association will take out a protest procession in the town tomorrow.


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