“State-sponsored fire,” Opposition leaders slam police killings in Assam

Congress former chief Rahul Gandhi today hit out at the BJP government in Assam, saying that the state government is sponsoring violence.

The key Opposition leader’s remarks came in response to reports of the police killing of two villagers who were among the thousands of Bengali-speaking Muslims protested against the Assam government’s ongoing eviction drive against “illegal encroachers” in Sipajhar in Assam’s Darrang district Thursday.

“Assam is on state-sponsored fire. I stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the state- no children of India deserve this,” said Rahul Gandhi on Twitter.

In a video, shared by All India United Democratic Front MLA Ashraful Hussain, armed members of the Assam Police were seen launching a brutal attack against civilians during an eviction drive by the cops. In the video, a man with a stick running towards police was fired upon. As he fell to the ground, policemen kept raining lathis on him. A civilian, holding a camera, then repeatedly jumped on his motionless body. A police officer could later be seen hugging the man to contain him.

Tweeting the video MLA Hussain, wrote, “Terror Force’ of fascist, communal & bigoted Govt shooting at its own citizens. Also, who is the person with camera? Someone from our ‘Great Media’ orgs? The appeal of these villagers, against eviction, is pending in the High Court. Couldn’t the Govt wait till court order?”

“The systematic persecution of the hapless minorities in Assam saw its cruelest form in Sipajhar today. Shameful that sanity and rationality are becoming the biggest victims in Assam today,” reads a tweet by Nagaon MP and Congress leader Pradyut Bordoloi.

Assam Congress committee has strongly condemned the “barbaric act of police firing on resident protesters of Dholpur, Sipajhar during eviction drive by Assam Govt.” The Congress Party also warned the BJP government to not indulge in actions that will turn Assam into a police state.

Waris Pathan, national spokesperson of AIMIM called the saffron party-led government’s police action “inhumane.”

“Just saw the most horrific and depressing video from Assam. We are becoming a blood-thirsty society: the cameraman, cops, and treatment meted out to a civilian, they are not others but people amongst us. Need to pause, reflect and rethink our path as a nation that promises equality to all,” says Priyanka Chaturvedi, Shiv Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP.

Following the death, the Assam government has ordered an inquiry by a retired judge of the Gauhati High Court into the killings and the circumstances leading to the incident.

Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told journalists on Thursday evening that the eviction drive will continue. “Police are doing their duty…As per my information, people attacked the police with machetes, spears, and other things,” Sarma said. “Eviction has restarted [after the violence] and will continue tomorrow as well.”