M A I N   N E W S

Road blockade over ‘fake encounter’
Tea workers attack protesters; curfew in Tinsukia

Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, May 13
Indefinite curfew has been clamped in areas under three eastern Assam police stations in Doom Dooma, Dolla and Kakopathar in Tinsukia district following violent clashes between ULFA sympathisers and tea garden workers at Dholla.

Assam government spokesman and cabinet minister Himanta Bishwa Sharma said ULFA-backed protesters, who have been blocking the arterial National Highway 37 since May 7 in protest against “fake encounter” killing of Budheswar Moran by the Army at Laopaty on May 6, were attacked by tea workers who were enraged at acute shortage of foodstuff in the area.

Eastern Assam commissioner Hemanta Narzary said at least five persons were injured in the violent clashes between the protesters and general public and curfew had been clamped in three police stations.

The road blockade also choked the supply of essential commodities to four districts in the neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh besides the eastern fringes of the state beyond Tinsukia town. A large number of tea estates located in the Doom Dooma area have been hit hard by the shortage of essential commodities because of the continuing road blockade, he added.

The protesters refused to move from the highway though the state government and the Army had ordered separate inquiries into the killing of Moran.

The Army had branded Moran a hardcore ULFA militant, leading to protests from villagers who claimed that the killed person was not associated with ULFA and was a watchman in a tea estate.

The People's Committee for Peace Initiative in Assam (PCPIA), which is known as a sympathiser of the banned ULFA, also joined the protests against the killing and demanded an assurance from Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi that such “fake encounter” killings wouldn’t recur to withdraw the highway blockade.

“We tried to persuade the agitators to call off the blockade and did not want to go for a confrontation”, said Sharma, admitting that he was constantly in touch with the agitators.

Banned ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa had extended support to the protesters and called upon the people to intensify agitation against “continuing Army atrocities” on common people in the name of counter-insurgency operations.



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