Mobs Resort To Arson As Native Peoples Groups Demand Separation From Assam

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Diphu August 4: Amidst continuing incidents of arson, the pro-separate state movement is politically consolidating its position. Yesterday, after non-spirited tour by the two Gogoi cabinet ministers, eleven youth and student organizations formed a joint action committee to continue agitation to achieve statehood. The committee includes organizations like Karbi Anglong Youth Congress, NSUI, various factions of Karbi Students Association, All India Karbi National Assembly and KSYC.

Until today, the “Joint Action Committee for Autonomous State” has not paid any heed to the decision by the all party meeting held yesterday at Diphu circuit house. At that meeting, it was resolved that the Assam government will peruse the issue of autonomous state comprising the two hill districts of Assam within the ambit of Article 144(A) of the Constitution.

United Peoples Democratic Solidarity Chairman Tears Up Agreement

In another development, Horen Sing Bey, the ex. Chairman of United Peoples Democratic Solidarity declared the tripartite agreement signed between UPDS, Government of India and Assam government as void. After tearing up a copy of the agreement signed in 2011 yesterday as a symbolic protest, he said “They deceived us and made us sign the agreement by swindling the whole issue, we are fully determined in the issue of the separate state now.”

Unlike yesterday, Hill Area Development Minister, Khorsing evaded all imperative queries pertaining to the core issue out of which the present situation of Karbi Anglong has taken place. The minister appeared at a press meet held at Diphu circuit house today where representatives of all parties addressed the media.

“A peaceful state of affairs will have to prevail so that the process of bringing back amity and procedure of settling issues through dialogue and discussion can be initiated. I appeal to everyone to shun violence” said Khorsing Engti, who remained taciturn when he was asked why the Chief Minister did not bother to visit the trouble torn district which is enveloped by a spree of violence.

In today’s meeting, CPI(ML) demand the release of Robi Kumar Phangchoo, general secretary of CPI(ML) hill party committee and scores of other arrested party cadres, who were arrested by police. “If the authority does not release them soon enough, the party will go for a forceful democratic agitation to secure their release and for statehood,” they said.

Joy Ram Engleng, Chief Executive Member of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council is to lead a delegation of elected representatives of the two autonomous councils of Assam to meet Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on the statehood issue tomorrow.

One Curfew Relaxed, Others Remain

The curfew was relaxed from 8.00 A M to 1.00 PM today in Diphu town where the order has been in place since 31st July. The curfew continues in Donkamukam and Baithalangso town in the western part of Karbi Anglong, where twelve police were injured by stone pelting and four civilian sustained bullet injuries when Donkamukam outpost police opened fire to disperse a mob. That mob tried to storm the police station to free twelve persons who were arrested and charged with indulging in arson yesterday.

After the sudden spurt of violence which swept the length and breadth of the district since last Saturday, reports of infrequent burning down government offices and installations is coming from interior areas. Arson is continuing in and around Diphu town. Offices of Congress and HSDP have become targets of the pro-state activists, which indicates that political interference in the statehood issue is unwanted among the hardliner campaigners of the issue. Rubber plantations of congress leaders have also been destroyed in many places around Diphu.

An office of the main opposition party HSDP was burned down in Donkamukam, and an official vehicle of the PHE department stationed at Hamren was torched yesterday, the Soil Conservation departments range office and few quarters were torched. In Baithalangso, one office of the PWD (NH) division was burned down, and the office of the Handloom and Textile company near Khorini was set fire. Thousands of people were present at the burning in effigy of NP Biren Sing Engti, HAD Minister Khorsing Engti, and CEM Joy Ram Engleng, at Duaramola in west Karbi Anglong. The office of the Khadi and Village development Board located near Hindi Training center of Diphu town was torched around 11.30 AM today. Ten shops were completely gutted when a mob set a fire in Phuloni daily market today morning.

AGP Blames Congress For The Violent Episode

The opposition AGP has squarely blamed congress for the whole violent episode in Karbi Anglong “The long standing demand of the people of Karbi Anglong and constant discounting of the issue by congress has led to this sudden outburst. The state government has no control over the situation, not force but the issue will have to be tackled politically. Chief Minister Gogoi is reluctant to go to Bodoland and Karbi Anglong, he wants to deal with the matter from Delhi” Atul Bora working president of AGP told the media at Diphu today. Bora offered no comment when he was asked whether AGP as a political party will support the statehood demand. Bora was accompanied by MP Joseph Toppno and other senior members of the party. The AGP delegation held a meeting with the pro state leaders at Diphu circuit house where HSDP leaders and individuals like Holi Ram Terang were present.

Normal life was totally disrupted in Dima Hasao District since yesterday due to a 36 hour strike called by All Dimasa Students Union, Dimasa Peoples Committee and JACDM, to press forward the demand for a separate hill state. Another 100 hour Dima Hasao strike will begin from tomorrow 5.00 AM called by HSDP on the same issue.

Sushanta Roy is a journalist in Assam, India, who photographs and writes about the people, animals and flora of Assam, and the things that affect them.