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Gogoi faces border heat

- Inmates of relief camp in Assam hurl stones at CM convoy, death toll rises to 14

Uriamghat, Aug. 18: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who visited a relief camp at Don Bosco School here on the Assam-Nagaland border this morning, had to beat a hasty retreat after angry inmates tried to heckle him.

Gogoi’s security guards fired three rounds in the air with AK-47 rifles before they could get the chief minister back into his vehicle and sped away from the spot.

The crowd threw stones, damaging three cars in the chief minister’s convoy, including that of Khumtai legislator Bishmita Gogoi. The police then resorted to a lathicharge to disperse the mob.

With the recovery of a man’s decomposed body at Kamphur village today, the death toll in the latest border flare-up has gone up to 14.

Gogoi, who arrived at Sarupathar railway station from Mariani by Kamakhya Express, reached the relief camp, where around 4,000 people are taking shelter, around noon. He was confronted by angry camp inmates who alleged that the government had failed to control the situation.

The inmates demanded that instead of visiting the relief camp, Gogoi should visit the violence-affected areas to get a clear picture of the situation. After spending barely 10 minutes at the camp, the chief minister was forced to beat a hasty retreat as the crowd tried to heckle him.

Gogoi later visited a smaller relief camp set up at Sarupathar Town LP School, where 507 people affected by the border flare-up have taken shelter. At this camp, too, Gogoi felt the heat as the inmates alleged that the government had failed to deal with the situation.

The chief minister also faced protests by KMSS members in front of Kushal Bhawan at Sarupathar, where his convoy stopped for rest. The protesters burnt his effigy. The police had to lathicharge and fire rubber bullets and tear gas shells to disperse the protesters.

Earlier, the KMSS submitted a memorandum to Gogoi demanding setting up of sufficient police pickets to provide security to people living along the Assam-Nagaland border.

KMSS activists, led by Akhil Gogoi, also staged a protest in front of Nagaland House in Guwahati demanding an end to the border row.

The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) protested in front of the chief minister’s convoy when Gogoi was going to Mariani railway station from Jorhat on his way to the relief camp. The police caned the protesters to disperse them.

AASU Jorhat district president Jul Khound said one or two of their activists had received minor injuries. The business community at Mariani downed its shutters for two hours. Gogoi later told reporters that it was quite natural for the people to be angry. He said the state government would set up a border development council and an exclusive border protection force, comprising Assam police personnel, which would be deployed in the disputed areas.

The chief minister left Sarupathar by Avadh-Assam Express around 3.30pm and reached Guwahati tonight.

Assam director-general of police Khagen Sarma today said the police had identified seven places for setting up police pickets, besides the existing CRPF pickets, to make sure that those displaced during the attacks could go back to their villages.

“Since this is a disputed area, a neutral force like the CRPF was deployed there. Ten companies of CRPF have been there for a long time and we also have six border outposts there. But since many people have been rendered homeless we are now working jointly with the CRPF to help people return to their homes,” Sarma said on the sideline of a function organised by Guwahati police.

CRPF inspector-general of police M.P.S. Negi told this correspondent that the situation on the border was absolutely under control. On people seeking army deployment on the border, he said the people may seek whatever they want but the CRPF was equipped to do the job. On the chief minister blaming the CRPF for failing in its duty, Negi said, “No comments”.


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