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Sipajhar Eviction Drive: 12-hour bandh observed in Darrang, BJP MP suspects involvement of militants

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Guwahati, Sept 24: A day after the clash between police and alleged encroachers in which two persons died and over 11 from sides were injured, various organisations representing the minority community had on Friday called a 12-hour bandh across the central Assam’s Darrang district.

Last Thursday, a clash broke out between people of Gorukhuti under Sipajhar block, about 65 km from Assam capital Guwahati, and Darrang police after the latter had to fire shots on being obstructed during an eviction drive against “illegal encroachers” over a government land scheduled for a multi-crore community farming project. Thursday was second round of eviction in the chhar (sandbar) area mostly populated by Bengali-speaking Muslims after last Monday (September 22) when at least 800 families were evicted, clearing about 4,50p bighas of land.The Bandh was called by the All Minority Organisations Coordination Committee, a conglomerate of minority organisations including the All Assam Minority Students Union (AAMSU) and the Jamiat-e-Ulema among others, that began at 5 AM on Friday.The bandh was observed peacefully with no untoward incident reported. All business establishments remained closed and very few vehicles plied on the roads, police said.
Security has been tightened across the district with heavy deployment in Gorukhuti, Dholpur I and III villages in Sipajhar where the eviction drive was underway, he added.

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Congress protests at Darrang

A Congress delegation, comprising its state chief Bhupen Bora, Rajya Sabha MP Ripun Bora, deputy leader of Congress Legislature Party (CLP) Rakibul Hussain and other senior leaders, staged a protest against the incident outside the Darrang Deputy Commissioner’s office in district headquarters Mangaldoi.

The delegation was also scheduled to submit a memorandum to Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi through the Deputy Commissioner, party spokesperson Bobbeeta Sharma said.

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CID to investigate the firing incident

Director General of Police, Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta visited the district on Thursday night to review the law and order situation, and announced that the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) will probe the incident.

“Some facts have come to light while there are many that are yet to be unravelled. The CID will investigate all the aspects,” he told reporters.

Of the 11 people who were injured in the clash and have been shifted to Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, 8 are resident protesters and the rest 3 are Assam police personnel.
The three police personnel have been identified as DSP Amrit Rai Choudhury, in critical condition, Apurva Ranghang and Munir Ahmed.

Another civilian is also critically injured who still has a bullet lodged in his stomach, according to GMCH superintendent Abhijit Sarma, while the rest civilians have injuries in their non-vital organs.

The state government has announced a judicial inquiry into the incident by a retired Gauhati High Court judge whose name is yet to be declared.Suspected militants behind the firing incident

BJP MLA Padma Hazarika, who is the in-charge of the government’s community farming project to be taken up on the evicted land, said that the Darrang district administration had taken the protestors in confidence after a talk with their leaders that ended on a positive note.

“After that who attacked the policemen and under the provocation of whom must be investigated. If vested parties think they can stop the eviction drive and the farming project, then they are mistaken. The project will be successfully completed,” he said.
BJP local MP Dilip Saikia on Thursday, in an interview with media, said he suspects Muslim outfit People’s Front of India “could be behind the incident.”Eviction drive to continue

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said on Thursday stated that the ongoing eviction drive will not be stopped and the police entrusted with the job of clearing the land of “illegal encroachers” will continue to do so till the job was done.

The Darrang district administration has so far cleared 602.4 hectares of land and evicted 800 families since Monday and demolished four “illegally” constructed religious structures at Sipajhar.

The chief minister had visited the area on June 7 and inspected the riverine areas allegedly encroached by ”illegal settlers” near Dholpur Shiva temple and directed the district administration to clear the area for setting up the community farming project.

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