GUWAHATI: Two youths were killed and nine others injured in police firing on protesters defying the indefinite curfew and Army presence in Guwahati on Thursday to rally against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill across the city, including at a playground opposite the high court that saw a gathering running into thousands.
One of the victims was identified as 23-year-old Deepanjal Das, who took a bullet in his stomach and died at Guwahati Medical College and Hospital an hour later. Sources said Deepanjal, who worked in a canteen at Sainik Bhawan, was standing with a group of protesters in the Lachit Nagar locality when the police opened fire. The protesters had blocked the main road and made a bonfire of construction materials.
A few hours later, another person was killed in the Hatigaon area when police opened fire on a group of protesters allegedly trying to damage public property. Three others in the group suffered bullet injuries. The slain youth hadn’t been identified till late in the night.
A third group of protesters violating the curfew was fired upon by police at Basishta, leaving six of them injured.
At the Latasil Ground, normally associated with happy occasions like the annual Guwahati Bihu Sanmilani, there was a mammoth gathering of citizens, including students, for a rally that passed off without any confrontation with the large contingent of security personnel deployed there.
More than 450km away, in the Upper Assam district of Dibrugarh, the anti-CAB protests turned progressively violent since Wednesday night, when the private residence of chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Dibrugarh MLA Prasanta Phukan were pelted with stones. On Thursday afternoon, suspected vandals set ablaze the house of Chabua’s BJP MLA Binod Hazarika.
The state-run Assam State Transport Corporation‘s bus terminus in Dibrugarh was partially damaged when some protesters set fire to the building.
In central Assam, BJP minister Ranjit Dutta’s residence was attacked, as were houses belonging to fellow party MLAs Padma Hazarika in Sootea and Debananda Hazarika in Bihpuria constituency.
Protesters also ransacked the AGP headquarters in Guwahati and the party’s office in Dergaon. BJP and RSS offices in Dibrugarh and Golaghat districts were ransacked, too.
Curfew was clamped in Dibrugarh, Tezpur and Dhekiajuli towns following these incidents. Night curfew was declared in Jorhat, Golaghat, Charaideo and Tinsukia even as the suspension of mobile internet in 10 districts was extended till Saturday.
The Kamrup (Metro) district administration ordered the closure of all educational institutions in the city till December 22.
Seventeen columns of the Army and 20 more of Assam Rifles, a paramilitary force under the Army’s operational command, were deployed in five locations, including Guwahati.
RTI activist Akhil Gogoi, whose Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti has been at the forefront of the anti-CAB protests, was arrested after he staged a sit-in outside the Jorhat deputy commissioner’s office.
Several hospitals in Guwahati reported a shortage of oxygen cylinders because of the disruption in supply. Some hotels refused new bookings by citing inadequate food stocks.