Probe ordered in Assam’s violent protests

June 23rd, 2011 - 7:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, June 23 (IANS) Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi Thursday ordered an investigation into violent demonstrations over a government eviction drive which saw three people shot dead by police.

“We have ordered an inquiry into the mob violence and will take necessary action against those guilty or those involved in the vandalism,” Gogoi said.

Three people, including a nine-year-old child, were killed, over 50 injured, and at least 20-odd public and private vehicles were damaged after a mob went on a rampage Wednesday in Assam’s main city of Guwahati.

Police said the protest turned violent when people armed with sticks and stones attacked security forces and targeted public and private transport.

“Video footage of the rampage would be examined and necessary action would be taken as per law,” state government spokesperson and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told IANS.

The government would also initiate action against errant police and civil officials for failing to control the violence.

“Once the probe report is submitted (expected by Friday night), action would be taken in the next three to four days,” the minister said.

More than 5,000 people, led by the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity (KMSS) — a peasants group, staged a protest in Guwahati demanding that authorities stop an eviction drive in the city’s hill areas.

The protesters, including many women and children, were demanding an end to the evictions of squatters from bamboo huts built in the hills around the city. They want the government to allow them to stay and apply for utility services like water and electricity.

“The government has decided against sitting for talks with the KMSS leaders, but would surely hold negotiations with genuine groups settled in the hill areas to sort out the problem of eviction and issuing land deeds,” Sarma said.

Officials carrying out the evictions over the past 10 days have said the illegal homes are degrading the environment and contributing to flash floods and mudslides, which in recent years have killed dozens of illegal settlers.

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