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Group decries Ahmed axe

- 12-hr bandh in support of minister finds few takers

Guwahati, July 23: Sanmilito Jonogosthiyo Oikyo Moncho, a forum of 23 different organisations, today threatened to intensify its protest against the “unjust” axing of border area development minister Siddique Ahmed from the state cabinet.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi yesterday dropped Ahmed along with irrigation and soil conservation minister Ardhendu Kumar Dey, both members of the dissident group in the Congress Legislature Party (CLP), which sought Gogoi’s ouster.

Former health and education minister Himanta Biswa, who also quit yesterday, leads the group.

Governor J.B. Patnaik today approved the chief minister’s decision to drop Ahmed and Dey.

Leaders of the Moncho told reporters here today that Ahmed was axed because he had raised his voice against the alleged atrocities on non-Bodo people in the Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD).

“Ahmed has always been concerned about the suffering of the people in the BTAD. Despite being a member of the cabinet, he criticised the government for its failure to protect the violence-affected people in the Bodo belt. Gogoi apparently did not like his criticism and dropped Ahmed from the ministry,” said Hiteswar Barman, president of the Moncho, which is headquartered at Kokrajhar.

On July 14, Ahmed had blamed Gogoi for the fresh turmoil in the BTAD.

He was also barred by the Baksa district administration from visiting Labdanguri, where the bodies of four traders who were abducted by suspected militants, were recovered. The traders hailed from Barpeta district in lower Assam.

Members of the Moncho burnt Gogoi’s effigy and organised a protest meet here against the dropping of Ahmed, an MLA from Karimganj South, from the cabinet. Barman said they would intensify their protest in association with other organisations like the All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU), All BTAD Minority Students’ Union (ABMSU) and the Hiteshwar Barman faction of the All Koch Rajbongshi Students’ Union (AKRSU).

“Dropping of Ahmed from the ministry merely reflects how Gogoi does not care about the growing violence against people in the BTAD,” Barman said.

In a related development, a 12-hour bandh called today by pro-Siddique Ahmed followers in the Barak valley districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi, to protest his dropping from the ministry, failed to make any impact.

Official sources in Karimganj said barring some pockets in Asimganj and Nilambazar enclaves, normality prevailed in the district.

Police in Hailakandi district said this afternoon that the bandh was partial in the Algapur block near the district headquarters of Hailakandi, where a blockade of the road leading to the town was organised by bandh supporters, but was removed by the police after some time.

The strike was called by the Progressive Students’ Youth Forum, led by Abdul Malik Mira, and the Minorities Development Parishad, both pro-Siddique Ahmed groups, in Karimganj and Hailakandi districts.


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