Who instigated Darrang eviction drive violence, asks Assam CM Sarma

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Who instigated Darrang eviction drive violence, asks Assam CM Sarma

New Delhi:  Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the ongoing eviction drive that turned violent on Thursday leading to the death of at least two men was urgent but not taken up overnight. Stating discussions were held for four months and there was agreement on a peaceful eviction of encroachers, Sarma asked who could have instigated the violence.  He said 11 policemen were injured in the clashes that took place at Sipajhar in Darrang district, adding a judicial enquiry would be held into the incident. A 12-hour bandh was called on Friday by various organisations to protest the death of two persons in a police firing a day ago.

Sarma said the eviction drive was initiated on an agreed principle that landless people will be provided two acres each as per land policy. “We expected no resistance, but about 10,000 people gheraoed the Assam Police, used violence. It was then that police retaliated,” Sarma was quoted as saying,

“You cannot demean the state government with one video. thence 1983, that area is known for killings. Otherwise, normally people do not encroach on temple land. I have seen encroachments all around. The peaceful eviction drive was agreed upon, but who instigated?” he further said. On a visit to the area on Thursday night, director-general of police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said a photographer of the deputy commissioner's office who was seen in a viral video kicking and hitting a man allegedly shot dead by security personnel had been arrested and booked, adding he was in the CID's custody. Mahanta said the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) would probe the incident. Sarma said, “Our 11 police personnel have been injured. We will carry out an inquiry on how a cameraman came into the scene, and why he tried to overpower that particular person. We have ordered a judicial probe,” he said.

“This (eviction drive) was urgent. It was not done overnight, discussions were on for four months. A Congress delegation had met me and agreed on land allotment to landless. About 27,000 acres of land had to be productively used. There was a temple, which was also encroached upon,” he added. On Thursday night, Sarma said the eviction drive will not be stopped and the police were entrusted with the job of clearing the land of "illegal encroachers" will continue to do so till the job is done. Eleven seriously injured people, of whom three were policemen and the rest civilians, were shifted to Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) late on Thursday night, its superintendent Abhijit Sharma said. A policeman and three civilians were stated to be critical, while the condition of the remaining people was stable although they were under observation, he said.

Meanwhile, a Congress delegation, comprising its state chief Bhupen Bora, Rajya Sabha MP Ripun Bora, deputy leader of Congress Legislature Party Rakibul Hussain and other senior leaders, staged a protest outside the Darrang deputy commissioner's office in district headquarters Mangaldoi.