NEW DELHI – Two civilians were killed and policemen injured on Thursday when the police forces in Assam’s Darrang district clashed with the protesters over house demolitions.
Videos surfaced on social media show policemen in riot gear and armed with guns and sticks chased protesters and opened fire at them.
The horrifying visuals showed a cameraman filming the clash attacked and jumped on the chest of the protesters . The protester, beaten by policemen, lay motionless as the cameraman kept attacking him until he was restrained.
Haunted by that civil clothes camera guy. @AmitShah called Bengali-descent Muslims “termites” not humans – a sign to men like him that it’s ok to let his inner monster out. He’s high on xenophobia, that’s why he is getting such pleasure from every leap on the fallen man.
— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) September 23, 2021
The state government has reportedly ordered a probe – to be headed by a retired High Court judge – into Thursday’s violence.
Houses of some 800 families were demolished in the drive against alleged encroachments at Dholpur on Monday. The victims are said to be Bengali-speaking Muslims. The state wants to repossess 4,500 bighas of government land for an agricultural project.
The police claimed local people attacked them with stones and they had to use force.
“Nine of our policemen were injured. Two civilians were also injured. They have been shifted to hospital. Now things are normal,” Superintendent of Police Sushanta Biswa Sarma said.
Sarma, who was at the site of the clash, added, “We couldn’t complete the eviction because of the situation. We will assess later. We are returning as of now.”
But when asked about the footage of the local being shot and then beaten, he said “The area is big. I was on another side. I will find out and assess the situation.”
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, reacting to the police brutality, targeted the state’s BJP government and tweeted, “Assam is on state-sponsored fire”.
“I stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the state – no children of India deserve this,” he added.
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had tweeted after the eviction drive on Monday, “I am happy and compliment district administration of Darrang and Assam Police for having cleared about 4500 bigha, by evicting 800 households.”
Reports say the government decided in June to repossess the land for a farming project and had served notices to alleged encroachers.
The Chief Minister had also visited the area. In a tweet during the visit, he said, he was there to “inspect the riverine areas that were encroached by illegal settlers near Dholpur Shiva Mandir. 120 Bighas land of the temple under encroachment of illegal occupants in the area have been freed by @assampolice and district administration. Such squatters would be evicted from all parts of Assam to protect our land and the Assamese identity from encroachers and intruders.”
Sarma also wrote: “We also offer prayers at Shiva temple to seek lord Shiva blessings. A short temple management and local people to set up a Manikut, builder guest house and boundary wall. All steps should be taken to turn temple into a tourist attraction.”
The tweet is no longer on his timeline.