GUWAHATI: One person was killed in police firing while several others, including a 14-year-old girl, were injured when the locals in an Assam town clashed with the police protesting the custodial death of a daily wage labourer.
The incident took place at Dhula, some 100 km north of Guwahati, in Darrang district on Wednesday morning. Fearing fresh violence, the authorities clamped prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC in areas falling under Dhula police station for an indefinite period.
The death of one Hasen Ali, a Bengali-speaking Muslim who worked as a labourer in Karnataka, had triggered the incident. The locals alleged he died due to atrocities by the police. The authorities have placed the officer-in-charge (OC) of Dhula police station, Ranjit Hazarika, under suspension.
The police on Tuesday evening raided the house of Ali suspecting that he was in possession of an illegal weapon but did not get any. Later, they picked him up and drove towards the police station. However, as he fell sick later, he was taken to the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital but he died soon after.
On Wednesday morning, thousands of locals took out a protest march on National Highway 15 demanding action against the guilty cops. However, the protest soon turned violent after a section of the protestors started attacking the police station with stones. The police retaliated by using batons and tear gas shells. However, when that did not work, they opened fire.
Protestors Mohidul Haque and Gulam Mustafa and a 14-year-old Muslim girl were injured in the police firing. While Haque succumbed to injuries, Mustafa and the girl were admitted to a government-run hospital in neighbouring Mangaldoi town. Three policemen were also injured in stone-pelting by the protestors.
Darrang deputy commissioner (district magistrate), Ashok Kumar Barman, told The New Indian Express that the situation was tense but under control.
“There is no problem now. Security personnel have been fanned out at Dhula as well as in its neighbouring areas. Vehicles, which remained stranded on the highway, have resumed movement with security escorts,” he said.
He suspected that the protestors were instigated by some “anti-social” elements.
“Initially, the protest was peaceful. They demanded the arrest and the suspension of the OC. When we assured them that we will look into their demands, they were convinced. However, later, some anti-social elements possibly instigated them which made them attack the police station. They will soon be identified and dealt with as per the law,” Barman said. He assured that action would also be initiated against the OC if found guilty.
An additional deputy commissioner will conduct a probe into the incident, he added.