Appeal by Delhi Action Committee Against Guwahati Police Killings on 22 nd June 2011
On 22nd June 2011, at around noon, the Assam police opened fire, killing four, on a demonstration led by Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) – a peasant organization of Assam. The protesters were demanding a halt to a massive ongoing eviction drive for more than a week around the hills in the city of Guwahati. Different tribal communities and labouring poor of the city have been living on these hills for over many decades and many of them are clearly entitled to pieces of land based on the ‘Forest Regulation (Rights) Act’ and other provisions of law. KMSS has been demanding a thorough survey to be undertaken by concerned Government agencies, of not just hills but of the entire city and ‘notify’ all lands according to law, and also hold mass consultations and public hearings before any evictions is undertaken by the State agencies.
However, the Government of Assam has ignored all legal rules and procedures. And over the last few days the city has witnessed an unprecedented ‘emergency’ like situation with thousands of people being rendered homeless due to the frenzied eviction drive.
It is worth mentioning here that in recent times the hills of the city are also becoming sites for huge land-grabbing by construction lobby and their Mafia associates. There are enough indications to suggest that the recent eviction drive was perhaps meant to clear the land of the poor so that it can be handed over to these Mafiosi. It is very clear that talks about ‘illegal encroachment of land by the labouring poor in the hills and its effect on ecology’ is nothing but a sham.
Rather than addressing the demands of adhering to proper regulations, procedures and the rights of the people; on 22nd June when more than 10,000 people gathered near the State Secretariat to press for their demands, Deputy Commissioner refused to meet the protestors. Soon the police started lobbing Tear-Gas shells and resorted to a baton charge. In the milieu, many people got injured and started running for cover. Police then resorted to firing which killed four people, including one minor. More than 50 people were seriously injured.
This unprovoked aggression, agitated a section of the protesters who retaliated by pelting stones, and grabbing what-so-ever they could lay their hands on, including twigs and branches of tree. And in the ensuing scuffle some policemen were also injured and hospitalized; a few Government vehicles were also set on fire.
However, a section of the mainstream media in Assam has been trying to harp on the singular fact that few policemen were injured and few government vehicles were burnt down, to present a distorted picture that the State Police forces are holier than thou and that the protesters are to be blamed for the causalities, as if the protesters pre-planned the pitched battles that were fought between the Government Forces and the protesters.
Instead of demanding accountability from the administration for consciously creating such a tense and murderous situation; certain influential and affluent section in Assam and their ‘brethrens’ in rest of India blame the protesters for all blood that tainted the streets on the ‘faithful’ afternoon.
What did the Government do? It went on a witch-hunt. Shamelessly, the Chief Minister-cum-Home Minister of Assam, Mr. Tarun Gogoi, went on to give a ‘George Bush kind of dictum’ on news channels; he said in a – “Whoever stands with Akhil Gogoi and KMSS have invited their own death ”.
On 24th June the Assam police arrested Akhil Gogoi, the general secretary of KMSS for inciting riot, arsoning, culpable homicide etc. We are apprehensive that in the coming days more and more people are going to be arrested, and if one go by the “good records” of Assam Police, all of them will certainly be tortured under Police Custody.
We appeal to all democratic minded individuals and groups to condemn such high- handedness of the Assam Government.
We intend to:
- Organize a protest in the national Capital as soon as possible, against such authoritarian attitude of the Assam (as well the Central) Government which is clearly moving towards becoming a ‘Police State’.
2. To run an online campaign both locally and globally to give a message to the Government of Assam that national and international civil society is watching it. You can sign the petition here http://www.petitiononline.com/a22k2011/petition.html
- Submit a petition to National Human Rights Commission appealing that a show-cause notice be issued to the Government of Assam asking for the rational behind live bullet firing upon protesters which resulted in the death of four protesters.
- Submit a petition to national Women’s Commission appealing that a show cause notice be issued to Assam Police. While Assam Police knew that at least an one third of the protesters were women, why were there no women police personnel on the ground.
1. Land grabbing by the State should be stopped immediately, and poor and tribal inhabitants of Guwahati be given legal title to the land for homestead.
2. A judicial enquiry into the police firing which resulted in the death of four protesters..
3. Immediate action against the concerned police officials who approved the decision to fire upon the protesters.
4. Ensure the safety of the KMSS leadership which has been sent to the police custody by the court of chief judicial magistrate, metropolitan ghy on 24th june 2011.
5. An unconditional apology by the chief minister/home minister of Assam Mr. Tarun Gogoi, to people of India.
Bonojit Hussain, Mayur Chetia, Abikal Borah, Naveen Chander, Madhuresh Kumar, Anshul Kumar Pandey, Yengkhom Jilangamba Singh, Amrapali Basumatary, Nayanjyoti, Vasundhara Jairath, Seram Rojesh, Anjali Sinha, Purnima Gupta, Malem Ningthouja, Praveen Verma
Contact: 9582730577, 9999773268, 9211215849