PCC probe team attacked

Feb. 14: Trouble mounted for the ruling Congress today with a PCC fact-finding team being attacked at a relief camp near Goalpara town, and its coalition partner, the Bodoland Peoples Front, saying the holding of panchayat election in the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council area went against the spirit of the Rabha Accord.

The toll in the violence that took place in the council area in protest against the holding of panchayat election on Tuesday and the day after has gone up to 20. About 10,650 displaced people have been put up in 12 relief camps.

Sources said the government has directed action against those involved in the violence. They said there was "credible information" about vested interests, who have nothing to do with the Rabha Hasong issue, trying to foment trouble. Timely intervention by security personnel prevented a flare-up.

PCC general secretary in charge of Goalpara, Ramesh Jain, told The Telegraph that they were attacked while visiting the fourth camp around 4.30pm. "Everything was going normally for our seven-member team. Our security guard told us that trouble started after a few persons who came in an Indica went to meet the inmates. Four of our vehicles were damaged and former Dhubri MP Anowar Hussain was hit on the head. He has been referred to GMCH by Goalpara civil hospital."

Sources said the attack indicates people's anger against the government and the party for not being able to assess the situation and prevent loss of life and property.

The Rabha Hasong Joint Movement Forum, which met at Dudhnoi today, declared the 20 people killed in police firing and group clashes as Jatiya Shaheed (national martyr). The meeting demanded ex gratia of Rs 15 lakh for those killed, Rs 2 lakh for the injured and a government job for the next kin of the deceased immediately.

Condemning the killings, BPF spokesperson Kampa Borgoyary, who is also the deputy chief of Bodoland Territorial Council, told reporters in Kokrajhar, "According to Clause 5 of the 1995 Rabha Accord, panchayati raj is not applicable in the Rabha Hasong autonomous council area".

He added, "It was an avoidable situation. It is an irresponsible act committed against the tribal people," reflecting the strained ties between the allies since the Kokrajhar riots erupted in July last year.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi had yesterday termed the Rabha Accord faulty while his press adviser Bharat Chandra Narah today described it as unconstitutional.

Narah said Dispur has no jurisdiction to exclude the council area from the purview of the 73rd amendment to the Constitution under Article 244 (M) which deals with panchayati raj system. Sporadic incidents of arson were also reported from the Bodoland Territorial Areas District during the 12-hour BTAD bandh called by the Rabha Peoples Movement Council today in protest against the killing of Rabha people in the Rabha Hasong council area. Bandh supporters set at least three vehicles on fire in Kokrajhar and Baksa districts. The bandh paralysed normal life in the BTAD.

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