|Police cane a blockade enforcer in Golaghat district on Tuesday. Telegraph picture
Golaghat, Aug. 19: Police today caned blockade enforcers in Golaghat district of Assam to clear National Highway 39, which serves as a lifeline between Assam and Nagaland. In the melee, one person died while many were injured.
Condemning the police atrocity, the joint forum of 13 organisations that had put up the blockade soon after an attack by alleged Naga militants on Adivasis in Sector B of the disputed areas belt on the Assam side on August 12, called an indefinite Golaghat district bandh from today.
Miscreants from the Nagaland side also fired around 8 rounds in no. 6 Kolajan village in Sector D along the inter-state border in Merapani around 9.30 tonight.
Earlier, trouble broke out this morning when a large contingent of police, led by additional director-general of police A.P. Raut and Golaghat superintendent of police Shiladitya Chetia, chased away the blockade enforcers at Rangajan on NH 39 where long queues of stranded vehicles had formed because of the blockade. The police also arrested 16 protesters, who were later released.
The agitators alleged that the police had caned them to make way for the convoy which was on its way to Jorhat to pick up Nagaland’s parliamentary secretary for transport, information and public relations, Paiwang Konyak. The convoy was stuck at Rangajan for four days because of the blockade.
Rout told this correspondent that NH 39 serves as a lifeline to Nagaland and Manipur and they could not let the blockade continue.
After the blockade was removed, people started gathering at Murphuloni Tiniali, 2km from the blockade site. As the police resorted to caning to disperse the mob, Ajit Tanti, who was trying to flee, came under a speeding truck and died at the civil hospital here.
Later, as news of the indefinite Golaghat bandh spread, several untoward incidents were reported from various parts of the district, including Numaligarh, Bokakhat, Morongi, Dhekial and Pulibor. Chaos prevailed as protesters blocked roads by felling trees and burning tyres. Protesters also vandalised a restaurant in Golaghat town and a petrol pump in Bokakhat.
A mob, many of them armed with bows and arrows, again blocked NH 39 at Rangajan Tiniali. The police fired tear gas shells, rubber bullets and caned protesters at the site in the evening but was unable to clear the road. Around 25 people were injured in the police action. The police then opened fire on the protesters. Five persons sustained bullet injuries. Two of them were sent to GMCH. The Golaghat SP has ordered an inquiry into the firing.
The All Assam Students Union today sent memoranda to home minister Rajnath Singh and Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju, demanding that a central team visit the border areas.
Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi accused Delhi of not being serious in normalising the situation along the Assam-Nagaland boundary.
“Where are the top BJP leaders who used to visit the state at the drop of a hat when the UPA government was in power at the Centre? Even the Union minister of state for home who is himself from the Northeast has not visited the border areas even after the loss of so many lives. Such attitude is evident of the fact that the present government at Delhi is not at all sincere to solve the border conflicts,” Gogoi told reporters on the sidelines of an executive meeting of the state Congress at Rajiv Bhawan in Guwahati on Tuesday afternoon.
In an official statement, Gogoi said people living along the Assam-Nagaland boundary and inmates of relief camps do not have confidence on the central security force deployed in the disputed areas belt. He said they want reinforcement of state security forces for their safety and security. This shows their confidence on the state security forces, he said.
The Sanmilito Jonogos-thiyo Oikyo Mancha, an umbrella body of non-Bodo organisations, strongly condemned the police actin in Golaghat. “The Tarun Gogoi government must pay for such heinous action,” Zamser Ali, chief speaker of the Mancha, said.
The situation was returning to normal in Ralan in Wokha district of Nagaland after a series of meetings between the civil societies of the two states and Assam at the government level.
Nine Nagas, including five armed policemen held by the protesters near Golaghat were released this morning and have reached Dimapur. So have stranded trucks.