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Congress urges Assam Guv to stop Darrang eviction till rehabilitation announced


Guwahati, Sept 24: Congress leaders met Assam Governor Jagadish Mukhi on Friday, urging him to stop the eviction drive at Sipajhar in Darrang till a proper rehabilitation package is announced, after two people were killed and over 20 people injured in police firing.

Submitting a memorandum, the party also demanded suspension of Deputy Commissioner Prabhati Thaosen and SP Sushanta Biswa Sarma, who is the younger brother of Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, besides seeking an inquiry into the incident by a sitting judge. The state government has ordered an inquiry into the incident that happened on Thursday by a retired judge of the Gauhati High Court, though the name of the judge was yet to be announced.

An all-party meeting along with stakeholders should be immediately called to strategize and plan a rehabilitation and compensation program for the evicted people of Goroikhuti, Dholpur and other villages, the Congress said.

"The Chief Minister, despite holding a constitutional post who has taken oath to serve and protect all citizens, has behaved in a biased manner by constantly giving provocative statements which have made matters worse," it alleged.

Sarma's statement of giving full authority to police to do firing has given them the "license to kill", besides having the potential of turning Assam into a police state, it added. The Congress delegation was led by its state unit president Bhupen Bora.

"Congress strongly condemns the most barbaric act of police firing and inhumane act on protesters during the state government's eviction drive... The manner in which a protester is ruthlessly beaten to death 'in camera' by police personnel and subsequent violence on the deceased protester by the cameraman in presence of police is horrifying," Bora said.

The lone protester could have been easily overpowered by more than 40 police personnel who were present but "to shoot a lone distraught protestor who is losing his hearth and home is brutally inhuman. The police should have tried to pacify him instead of killing him at point blank range", the Congress said. The party also demanded that the cameraman and the police personnel who took part in the barbaric act should be given exemplary punishment, while the deceased and the injured must be adequately compensated.

Earlier in the day, Congress leaders and workers protested outside the Deputy Commissioner's office at district headquarter Mangaldoi. The district administration has cleared 602.4 hectares of land and evicted 800 families since Monday and demolished four "illegally" constructed religious structures at Sipajhar.

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