Dhubri, Jan. 27: A woman was seriously injured and 13 were wounded when police tear-gassed, caned and fired rubber bullets at a group of Rabha Hasong Joint Movement Forum supporters while they were allegedly trying to prevent poll officials from being trained at the Rongjuli Girls' High School in Goalpara district today.
The woman, Sandhya Rabha, was shifted to Dispur Poly Clinic in Guwahati, while rest are undergoing treatment at Rongjuli.
In another poll-related incident in the district last night, a mob lynched a man at Gornagar near Jaleswar on suspicion of bursting the firecrackers that triggering panic in the area.
At Rongjuli, a large number of people had congregated today to protest against the conduct of panchayat polls in the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council areas and had allegedly tried to prevent training of poll officials at the girls' high school when the police charged, firing tear gas shells and rubber bullets.
All Rabha Students Union (Arsu) vice-president Jiban Rabha said the caning of women activists was unprovoked. "We were peacefully protesting against the training of poll officials in front of Rongjuli Girls High School when all of a sudden, police officers Bhaskar Saikia and Dhaniram Bharali started caning the women activists, which was illegal as there were no policewomen or magistrates present," he said.
He also condemned the arrest yesterday of 14 ARSU and Sixth Schedule Demand Committee members from different parts of Goalpara district.
Rabha, while reiterating that the protests would be intensified till the government cancelled the panchayat elections, demanded unconditional release of all members arrested yesterday and suspension of the two police officers involved in today's incident.
The mystery surrounding the "blasts" that triggered panic in Goalpara district last evening was purportedly solved when a mob caught hold of a man as he was fleeing after bursting firecrackers at Gornagar in the district and lynched him. The victim has been identified as Nazrul Khan, 32, of Mirakuchi village Part II under Fakirganj police station of Dhubri district.
Explosions triggered panic last evening at Porabhata, Medattari, Airkata and Chirakuti in the South Salmara Assembly constituency and Simlakandi, Jaleswar, Gornagar and Merakuchi in the Jaleswar Assembly constituency ' both AIUDF strongholds ' giving rise to speculations about attempts to keep voters away from the panchayat polls. One of the eight firecrackers went off in front of the house of a security guard of Jaleswar AIUDF legislator Moinuddin Ahmed at Haruaphuta, 3km from Jaleswar in Goalpara district.
The explosions killed or injured no one nor damaged any property, as these were mere firecrackers, police sources in Dhubri and Goalpara said.
Lakhipur police station officer-in-charge Kamal Chandra Sil said they had recovered a firecracker from the possession of Khan. "We did not get any bomb residues at any of the blast sites. Neither was there any crater nor any splinter. All explosions were caused by firecrackers," he said.Moreover, posters, allegedly put up by Ulfa, warning politicians and law enforcing agencies not to harass voters have added a different dimension to the situation.
Dhubri additional superintendent of police Prasanta Dutta confirmed that all explosions were caused by firecrackers and the alleged Ulfa posters were politically motivated to mislead the police. "Nazrul Khan had a long criminal background. However, the motive behind bursting fir crackers is being investigated," he said.
Dhubri district AIUDF president Aminur Ahmed told The Telegraph that they had feared these sort of incidents and had demanded deployment of paramilitary forces. "We know Congress uses police force and government machinery in the polls. It is going soft in Goalpara under pressure from Rabha Hasong organisations and might even cancel the rural polls. It is trying to terrorise voters in Dhubri district using blasts in AIUDF strongholds to gain in the elections," he said.