Assam: Indefinite curfew in Dhula town after man dies in police firing during protest

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Guwahati, Jan 11: On Wednesday, Dhula town in Assam's Darrang district remained tensed after a person died and several others were injured in a police firing.

Prior to the police firing incident, at least 5,000 people gathered in front of the Dhula Police Station to protest against the alleged custodial death of a person.

curfew

According to reports, policemen resorted to lathi-charge and firing as protesters went unruly. In order to control the situation, authorities have imposed an indefinite curfew in the town.

The mob burnt tyres, blocked NH-15 and gheraoed the police station claiming that one of their co-villagers had died due to torture in police custody after being picked up from his home, according to district deputy commissioner Ashok Kumar Barman.

The villagers alleged the 37-year-old man was picked up from his residence in remote Attakari village number 2 on Tuesday night and demanded his body. Officials said the man was arrested on suspicion of possessing illegal arms.

The protests continued despite the suspension of the police station in-charge and assurance of stern action against policemen found guilty.

District Superintendent of Police Sreejith T told PTI the mob brick-batted the police station, breaking windows and glass panes of doors. He said seven personnel were injured in the attack, prompting the police to open fire near Kharupetia to control the situation.

One person was killed in the police firing and two others, including a woman, injured, he said.

Following this, indefinite curfew was clamped in the area under the Dhula police station barring NH-15, Barman said. Security measures in the area were also tightened to prevent any untoward incident, he said.

Those injured in the brick-batting were a deputy sub-inspector, headquarters, Kharupetia police station officer-in-charge and three security personnel of Darrang SP's office and two other constables, Sreejith said.

He said when the man, whom the police had picked up, was being taken to the police station, he complained that he was feeling unwell and was rushed to the hospital first, and then taken into the custody. He was later taken to Guwahati Medical College.

On being asked if the man died due to police torture as alleged by the villagers, the SP replied that anything can be said only after investigation.

The district administration on instructions of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has ordered a magisterial enquiry by Additional Deputy Commissioner, Law and Order, Naranarayan Nath. He would submit his report within 15 days, official sources said.

Meanwhile, an official release in Guwahati said Sonowal expressed concern over the incident and ordered another enquiry by Additional Chief Secretary MGVK Bhanu.

The opposition, however, said the enquiry ordered was "inadequate" and demanded a judicial probe into the incident.

The leader of Opposition in Assam Debabrata Saikia of the Congress alleged that incidents of firing, use of teargas shells and lathi charge by the police have become frequent in the past few months in the state.

The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti accused the BJP-led government in the state of running a "police raj" and misusing power over the common people.

"The Dhula incident is a clear case of violation of human rights. People came out on roads to peacefully protest the death of a person in police custody but they were received by bullets. Such incidents are not happening for the first time," the KMSS said in a statement.

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