Assam: Around 500 people detained during bandh against proposed delimitation
Barak Democratic Front called for the bandh and other parties such as Congress and Trinamool Congress (TMC) backed it
Around 553 people have been detained in Assam’s Barak Valley during a 12-hour-bandh against the draft proposal the Election Commission of India (EC) released this month for the fresh delimitation of assembly and parliamentary constituencies.
The draft triggered protests in the Barak Valley, which includes districts of Cachar, Karimganj, and Hailakandi, as the number of assembly seats in the area is proposed to be reduced to 13 from 15.
Barak Democratic Front called for the bandh. Other parties such as Congress and Trinamool Congress (TMC) backed it.
Inspector-general (law and order) Akhilesh Kumar Singh said 206 were detained in Cachar, 184 in Karimganj, and 91 in Hailakandi until 2pm.
Singh said that they conducted marches in Barak Valley on Sunday and Monday to boost confidence among the people. “Today [Tuesday] some people demonstrated and tried to disturb society,” he added.
Congress leader Abhijit Paul, who was among those detained, said police forced businessmen to open their shops and asked the transporters to send as many vehicles as possible on the streets to show that there is no bandh.
“The attitude of the police is a concern. During the 1961 language movement, Assam Police opened fire on protesters which killed 11 youths. We see a similar attitude in the police’s behaviour.”
Police Superintendent Numal Mahatta said they have detained people for trying to stop people from going out.
Congress leader Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha said that 4.5 million people live in the Barak Valley and it will be impossible for everyone to reach out to the ECI. “So this protest was important. ECI did not give the people of Barak Valley the opportunity to express their views.”
The protesters chanted slogans against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). One of them asked the police to shoot him instead of arresting him while protesting in front of the Cachar deputy commissioner’s office. “This delimitation will reduce our presentation at the state assembly. We are already deprived and it will increase our deprivation further. The state government is killing us slowly. It s better if they shoot us at once,” he said.
On Monday, BJP leaders appealed to the people to ignore the call for the bandh and come out on the streets. Bimalendu Roy, a BJP leader, said there is a conspiracy against them and that anti-nationals were involved in the protests.
Most of the businesses were closed even as no violence was reported during the bandh.