The sad story is that the provision for creation of a state for Karbi Anglong had already been provided in the Constitution of India (Article 244[A]). The people of Karbi Anglong are only demanding the implementation of a constitutional provision.
Damages include: the District Congress office, All India Radio station, Irrigation dept office, Forest beat office, Autonomous Council office ransacked, several office residences of local Council legislators, Inspection bangalows, over 17 students shot and in critical conditions, news still pouring in..
People demanding statehood torch govt and private buildings
in Diphu & other parts of hill district
Nagaon, Aug. 1: Karbi Anglong burned today as supporters of a separate state comprising the hill district and adjoining Dima Hasao defied curfew and made bonfires of government and private buildings in the district.
Arson was reported from Dhubri district, too, but it was traders at Hatidura bazaar under Tamarhat police station who torched three motorcycles of supporters of the 36-hour strike called by the All Koch Rajbongshi Students Union (AKRSU) to press for Kamtapur state. The traders had refused to close shop during the strike that began this morning.
According to reports from Diphu, a mob comprising more than 200 youths representing various pro and anti-Congress organisations of Karbi Anglong attacked the Asam Sahitya Sabha building, which also houses the Diphu museum, at Lorulangso in the heart of the town around 1.30pm. The mob’s attempt to torch the building was, however, foiled by police who reached the site immediately after receiving reports about the incident.
Around the same time, another mob attacked and damaged the Diphu radio station and torched two forest department offices in the town.
Earlier, at 9am, people protested against imposition of curfew outside Diphu and clashed with the police near Matipung reserve forest on the town’s outskirts. The people attacked on-duty cops, forcing the latter to open blank fire. No one, however, was injured in the skirmish, a police source said.
This afternoon, a group comprising more than 1,000 youths dug up nearly 100 metres of the single broad gauge track between Diphu and Nilalong rail stations. The police, on reaching the spot, opened fire to disperse the mob, seriously injuring two youths.
The bonfires in the district started early today, with unidentified arsonists torching a local Congress office at Phuloni, around 65km from Diphu, around 1am. Local youths subsequently torched a PWD inspection bungalow at Dengaon, around 75km from the district headquarters, around 9 this morning.
The disturbance also spread to Bokajan subdivision of the hill district where mobs torched three buildings, including two inspection bungalows, a local education department office during the day. Moreover, a timber-laden truck was set ablaze in Hamren subdivision.
A police source said more security forces had reached the hill district today to boost strength of the existing eight companies of army and paramilitary forces.
“I hope the situation will be tackled properly. But for that we need everyone’s cooperation,” said the new Karbi Anglong superintendent of police, M.J. Mahanta, who joined duty in Diphu this afternoon.
Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council chief executive member Jayram Engleng today said he would lead a council team to New Delhi tomorrow for a discussion on the autonomous state issue with representatives of the Union home ministry. “We cannot get a state by burning vehicles or torching public property. Something has to be done but it should be democratic,” he said.
The Karbi Student Association today declared Rahul Singhar a martyr. The 24-year-old youth had died yesterday after being allegedly beaten up by in custody after he was arrested by police following the attack on Engleng’s residence. His body was handed over to his family after post mortem in Diphu today.
Of the 13 persons injured in police action yesterday, five were shifted to Guwahati today for better treatment.
“The attacks in Karbi Anglong are not being coordinated by any organisation. It is a movement by those deprived of their legitimate right to their dream state,” said Karbi Human Rights Watch convener Pankaj Teron.
Sources said chances of “extremist elements” adding to the trouble were high. “If they haven’t already,” a source added, pointing to the arson over the past two days.
According to the source, creation of Telangana might benefit the Congress and, by extension, the UPA, in the 2014 general elections in Andhra Pradesh, but could hurt the party in Assam. “Every seat will count next year,” the source said.
“It is an opportunity for the Opposition ahead of next year’s elections,” the source said, adding that bagging the lone Lok Sabha seat in Karbi Anglong could pave the way towards winning the four Assembly seats and then to capturing power in the council.
Hill State Democratic Party leader and former publicity secretary of the now-disbanded United People’s Democratic Solidarity, Wajuru Mukarang, said people were angry because the Centre had lied to them, saying no new state was possible without putting in place a States Reorganisation Commission first. “Then how did they allow Telangana without the commission?” he asked.
On why the UPDS had agreed to a more empowered autonomous council before saying farewell to arms, Mukarang said, “We were never satisfied; that was not what we wanted. We were made to sign the memorandum of settlement.”
He said the HSDP was now pushing for a state comprising the two hill districts. The party has called a 100-hour strike from August 5 and, if required, all Opposition members of the autonomous council would resign.
Mukarang said if the government could betray them, they could go back to militancy too. “We can don fatigues again.”
The UPDS cadres and leaders alike had surrendered arms and kept their fatigues aside on December 14, 2011 at a function in Diphu.
Senior police and civil officials of the state reviewed the situation in Karbi Anglong at a meeting held at the Circuit House in Guwahati this evening.
Assam chief secretary P.P. Varma, director-general of police J.N. Choudhury, principal secretary (home) Sailesh, additional director-general of police (special branch) Khagen Sarma and additional director-general of police (law and order) A.P. Rout, among others, were present in the meeting.
After the meeting, Varma said all steps were being taken to maintain normality and to ensure that no further damage was done to government properties.
Sailesh said they had asked the Centre for 15 additional companies of security forces and “so far, we have got five companies”. “We have also held discussions with railway authorities on providing security to the trains passing through the affected areas,” he said.
In view of a 12-hour railway blockade called by the All Bodo Students’ Union (Absu) tomorrow, the Northeast Frontier Railway has cancelled three short-distance trains — Lumding-Alipurduar Intercity Express, Alipurduar-Kamakhya Intercity Express and Dhubri-Fakiragram Intercity Express.
NFR public relations officer Nripen Bhattacharyya said the Guwahati-Delhi Northeast Express and Guwahati-Ernakulam Express had been rescheduled. He said Northeast Express, which was scheduled to depart from Guwahati at 1.45pm, will now depart at 9.45pm tomorrow, while Guwahati-Ernakulam Express, which was scheduled to depart from Guwahati at 1.30pm will now leave at 6.30pm.
“At lest nine long-distance trains will be regulated at different railway stations like Guwahati, New Jalpaiguri and New Cooch Behar tomorrow because of the rail blockade,” he said.
Congress MP Biren Singh Engti and legislators Khor Sing Engti, Mansing Rongpi, Bidya Singh Engleng along with district party chief S. Ronghung, council chief executive Engleng and his Dima Hasao council counterpart Debojit Thaosen met today at Engti’s son Klengdoon’s quarters at the MLA Hostel in Guwahati to discuss the situation in Karbi Anglong. Bokajan MLA Klengdoon, however, was not present, as he is currently in New Delhi.
Rongpi told The Telegraph that they sought a solution to the imbroglio and were ready to resign if it helped create a separate state.
On the other hand, in Dhubri district, public anger over the AKRSU strike call led to arson today. A Tamarhat police source said strike enforcers came on three motorbikes and pestered local traders to close shops. This resulted in an altercation. “When the argument heated up, a large number of traders gathered and set the motorcycles on fire,” the source added.
Traders in Barpeta Road also defied the strike call but many trucks were left stranded at Chagolia inter-state checkgate in Dhubri district and North Salmara in Bongaigaon district.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY BIJOY KR SHARMA IN DHUBRI AND OUR GUWAHATI BUREau