At least three people were killed and more than a dozen injured when police opened fire on Wednesday on a group of student protesters trying to stall government proceedings of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
A police spokesperson said more than 5,000 protesters led by leaders of the All Assam Minority Students' Union (AAMSU) went on the rampage on the streets of Barpeta town in western Assam, about 140 km from Guwahati.
"The mob became violent and started vandalism, attacking shops and private vehicles and tried storming the district magistrate's office. Police first resorted to baton charge and then opened fire in the air before firing on the crowd to disperse them," a senior police official said.
Three protesters were killed and 13 injured in the police action.
"The mob damaged up to a dozen vehicles and more than 20 shops," the official said.
The injured were shifted to hospital.
The AAMSU was demanding cancellation of the updating process of the NRC undertaken in Barpeta as a pilot project in Assam.
As part of the project, the citizens have been asked to attach some documents, as proof of their Indian citizenship with the standard government form. These documents include the list of NRC 1951, electoral roll of 1966 and that of 1971.
The purpose of NRC is to identify and enlist Indian citizens in the state.
The Bengali-speaking Muslims, along with some Bengali-speaking Hindus, of the state have protested vehemently against this project. Most of the protests have been led by the AAMSU.
"The fact that this kind of registration is done nowhere in India, brings out the dubious and illegal credentials of NRC. It has been launched with the precise purpose to target and discriminate against us," said AAMSU leader A. Hamid.