One person was killed and at least five others were injured when police opened fire to disperse a crowd in Assam's Goalpara district Thursday. The man who died and those injured were among people who were blocking National Highway 37.
The crowd was opposed to the elections to the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council (RHAC), and were blocking the highway as an expression of protest.
Police said the incident took place at Krishnai area in the district.
The protestors were representatives of non-Rabha communities and organisations. Besides opposing elections to the RHAC, they also demanded the exclusion of the non-Rabha-inhabited villages from the RHAC.
The Assam government had recently announced that elections to the RHAC will be held in three phases, on Nov 13, Nov 16 and Nov 25.
The Assam Election Commission said the first phase of the elections to 36-member RHAC will cover 13 constituencies, the second phase of Nov 16 will cover 12 constituencies, and the third phase of the polls would cover 11 constituencies.
The commission said counting of votes will occur Nov 30.
"We asked the people to vacate the highway. However, they refused to do so. The agitated crowd pelted stones at the police and security forces, forcing us to first baton-charge and then resort to firing," police said, adding that one person died and five others were injured in the incident.
Angry protestors then went on the rampage, setting fire to a passenger vehicle and destroying some vehicles plying on NH 37 in Krishnai and adjoining areas, police said.
The decision of the government to hold the RHAC elections has sparked protests from several non-Rabha communities.
While there are about 779 villages under the RHAC, spread over Golapara district and southern Kamrup district, non-Rabha community organisations claim that in at least 382 villages, Rabhas are the minority. There are demands that these villages should be excluded from the RHAC.
The non-Rabha communities have announced an even more intensive protest after the incidents of Thursday.