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Student�s death in firing sparks protest

By Correspondent

TEZPUR, May 1 � A great sensation prevails at Kalamati and its adjoining areas under the Misamari police station in Sonitpur district following the death of a student who fell victim to firing by the Ranger and a forest guard of the Kalamati range of the Sonai-Rupai Sanctuary.

The Ranger Sudarshan Johri and forest guard Umesh Barman have since been arrested on the charge of firing on innocents.

According to the information available here, the villagers of the area have been using the Bengenajuli river as a convenient means of irrigation for their farming land for years. However, a baandh (dam), constructed on this river that flows through the sanctuary for diverting its water to the agricultural field, was cleared by the forest guards on Wednesday evening. Some local farmers of the area then approached the Kalamati Range Office seeking clarification as to why the dam had been removed.

However, instead of giving any clarification to the villagers, the Ranger Sudarshan Johri and forest guard Umesh Barman fired at the villagers, which resulted in the death of a school student, Lakhikanta Orang (15). A woman identified as Dulari Murmu also sustained bullet injury in her stomach. She had to be rushed to the Kanaklata Civil Hospital in a critical condition.

Hundreds of infuriated people subsequently gheraoed the forest range office armed with lethal weapons like bows and arrows to attack the forest officials, creating a potentially dangerous situation.

On receiving information about the irate villagers� plan to attack the range office, the DC and SP Sonitpur rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control by assuring the farmers that exemplary punishment would be given to the accused forest officials.

The joint secretary of All Adivashi People�s Peace Initiative Movement, Biswajit Minj, the Adivashi student organizations AASAA and ATTSA and the AGSU Sonitpur district committee vehemently condemned the act and urged the authorities to hand exemplary punishment to the accused.

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