GUWAHATI: Dozens of flood victims were injured in a police lathi-charge after they had gone on the rampage by damaging vehicles and blocking a highway in protest against distribution of torn and substandard clothes by the district authorities.
The incident occurred at Balbola, around 180 km from Guwahati, in the state’s Goalpara district. The protesters had blocked the highway before unleashing the attack.
But soon, the police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel got into action, by using force to disperse them.
The protesters were seen made to kneel down and beaten up by the police and the CRPF personnel in television footage. Sixteen people have been arrested in connection with the incident.
A devastating flood had killed at least 41 people and thousands were displaced in the district recently. The affected are now sheltered in relief camps.
Meanwhile, the police action has evoked widespread outrage in the state, with Opposition parties, besides other groups and organisations, demanding action against the erring personnel. What ventilated their ire was the manner in which the protestors were beaten up. The state government and a Deputy Inspector General of police has ordered a judicial probe into the incident.
“We learnt that the attack on the flood victims was carried out at the instruction of a lady Additional Superintendent of Police. We demand that she is immediately placed under suspension,” said Abdul Rahim of the All Assam Minority Students Union (AAMSU).
He warned the AAMSU would call a shutdown in the district on Friday, if action was not taken against the erring personnel by Thursday.
“Apparently, these were used clothes. How could women wear clothes that are torn?,” he asked.
The police claimed the clothes were not substandard.
“The women were distributed synthetic sarees, but they demanded those made of cotton,” District Police Chief Nitul Gogoi told journalists.
Meanwhile, the police, as well as the state’s Parliamentary Secretary for Home, Etowa Munda, has raised doubts about the genuineness of the TV footage.