Guwahati: Clashes broke out in Sipajhar in Assam’s Darrang district Thursday as thousands protested against the government’s ongoing eviction drive against “illegal encroachers”, leaving at least two people dead and several injured on both sides.
In one video that surfaced on social media, a protester armed with a lathi was shot at from close quarters, and was later beaten up and jumped upon as he lay motionless on the ground.
Special DGP G P Singh confirmed the civilian deaths, adding that nine policemen were injured. “One policeman is critical,” he said.
Darrang Superintendent of Police Susanta Biswa Sarma told the media that police “did what they had to do” in “self-defense”.
Chief Minister Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma has instituted an inquiry into the circumstances that led to the deaths and injuries, led by a retired judge of the Gauhati High Court. Late Thursday evening, the man who jumped on the protester as he lay injured, identified as a photographer employed with the district administration, was arrested.
“The Government in the Home & Political Departments have decided to institute an inquiry into the circumstances leading to the death of 02 (two) civilians and injury of several others including police personnel in the firing incident that took place at Dhalpur area in Sipajhar Revenue Circle under Darrang District on 23/09/21,” an order issued by the Assam government said.
On Thursday morning, when officials of the Darrang district administration supported by a huge contingent of armed security personnel reached the Siajhar-Dholpur area to carry out an eviction drive, the locals protested.
The protest soon turned ugly, as demonstrators attacked policemen and other district administration officials with sticks and other sharp weapons.
With the situation going out of hand, the police resorted to lathi-charge. However, with the situation still not in control and being attacked, the police resorted to opening fire, resulting in the death of two persons.