1 killed, 8 hurt in Assam highway firing

Local residents protest at Dhula in Mangaldoi on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos

Tezpur: One person died and eight were injured in a clash between police and protesters over the alleged custodial death of a youth at Dhula in Assam’s Darrang district on Wednesday, prompting the administration to clamp indefinite curfew in the area barring National Highway 15.

Trouble brewed after Hasan Ali, 37, who was picked up by Dhula police from his house on suspicion of possessing arms, died at Dhula police station on Tuesday night.

Locals alleged that Ali had died after being tortured by police and that the police was trying to hush up the matter. In protest, the residents blocked National Highway 15 at 8am. They also demanded that the police hand over Ali’s body to his relatives.

Ali’s uncle, Rustom Ali, filed a complaint against Dhula police at the police station.

Dhula, in Kharupetia area, is about 15km from Mangaldoi, the headquarters of Darrang district, and 85km from Guwahati.

The district administration has ordered a magisterial inquiry and suspended Dhula police station officer-in-charge Ranjit Hazarika.

Darrang deputy commissioner Ashok Barman said the investigating officer has been asked to submit the report within 15 days.

Darrang superintendent of police Sreejit T said when the protesters refused to disperse despite repeated warnings and the deputy commissioner’s assurance that necessary steps had been initiated, the police resorted to baton charge.

A clash ensued around 11am with the protesters hurling stones at police personnel and injuring five of them.

In retaliatory firing by the police, a protester, identified as Moidul Islam, 25, died and two others, Gulam Mustafa Ali, 60, and Gule Rehena, 16, were seriously injured, said Sreejit, who was present at the time of firing.

The injured are being treated at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital.

Another person, Akbar Ali, 24, a physically challenged man who was passing by, was injured when he tried to escape from the place. He has been admitted to Mangaldoi civil hospital.

The injured police personnel are Kharupetia police station officer-in-charge Chandan Goswami and Sreejit’s personal security officers Arunjyoti Deka, Chandiram Baishya, Bapan Chandra Deka and Babul Sud.

Sreejit said Ali was detained on the basis of specific intelligence input that he was in possession of arms. He was injured during interrogation and taken to hospital, where he was declared brought dead.

Ali is survived by his wife and five children.

Additional reporting by our correspondent in Mangaldoi

Pranab Kumar Das Telegraph India

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