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Police lathicharge KMSS protesters

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, June 25 - A group of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) activists led by their leader Akhil Gogoi created an unruly scene for about one hour this morning in front of a city hotel by forcing their entry to the hotel�s compound and staging a dharna against the government�s decision to go for bidding of 12 small oilfields of Assam by private players, including foreign investors, which resulted in police lathicharge and arrest of many agitators.

The KMSS activists gathered at the hotel, where an interactive meet on �Discovered Small Filed Bid Round 2016� was going on. Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan, State Industry and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary, State Chief Secretary VK Pipersenia and senior officials from oil sector PSUs and prospective investors were present at the meeting.

Akhil Gogoi and KMSS activists managed to enter the hotel compound and staged a dharna outside one of its doors.

Some senior oil sector officials were seen attempting to convince Gogoi to end the dharna, which only resulted in heated arguments and the KMSS activists refused to budge.

Police and CRPF personnel then tried to forcibly remove the protesters. When the protesters resisted, the security personnel resorted to lathicharge.

They also arrested Gogoi and some of the KMSS activists and took them away from the spot. Some protesters sustained injuries during the lathicharge.

However, the interactive meet held in one of the conference rooms of the hotel was not disrupted and continued without any interruption.

Later, when asked by reporters about the KMSS dharna, Pradhan termed it as not a �serious� matter. He added that in a democracy, everybody has a right to express his or her opinion.

�We are concerned about ensuring employment potential for the youth of Assam and revenue for the State, which it can use for social development. Many of the big oil sector companies do not have the technology or managerial skills to exploit small oilfields and so we are allowing firms that have the technology and skill to bid for them. Assam will benefit in the process,� he said.

Meanwhile, in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister by the KMSS, copies of which were handed over by Gogoi to media persons at the dharna spot, the organisation said the government�s �decision to allow FDI in the economic sector of India is like ringing the death alarm for the genuine possibility of economic aspirations of the country.�

�Assam�s petroleum resources have served little the interests of the region earlier and this must change. Earnings from these resources must be carefully invested in Assam to allow her to prosper economically. The decision to allow FDI and thus handing these oilfields to the private economic concerns will further ensure that Assam will be again deprived of her rightful claim to petroleum (sic),� it said, and added, �The Government of India take back any decision to hand over 12 oil fields to private concerns.�

Meanwhile, the All Assam Students� Union also opposed the Centre�s decision with regard to the oilfields.

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