TINSUKIA/MARGHERITA, April 12: The 48-hour Tinsukia district bandh called by the All Adivasi Students Association of Assam, All Tea Tribe Students Association and other students associations on April 12-13 was withdrawn by 2 p.m. on Tuesday, even as bandh activists and picketers went on a rampage in Tinsukia, Makum, Digboi, Panitola, Margherita and several other places. The bandh had been called to protest the death of 11 Adivasi people by electrocution at Pengeree due to blank firing by police on April 11. Around 20 people were seriously injured in the incident.
Following appeals by several civil society groups to the protesting groups to withdraw their bandh call keeping in mind the Bihu festivities that are to begin from Wednesday, the strike was lifted.
Mathias Dhan and Ramanus Lakra, president and general secretary of All Adivasi Students Association of Assam, Tinsukia district committee later said that the gruesome incident on Monday was condemble, but since Rongali Bihu would be celebrated on April 13 and April 14, they decided to withdraw the 48-hour strike call so that peace and harmony can prevail during the festive season.
A memorandum was submitted to the Tinsukia district deputy commissioner by the two Adivasi student leaders demanding a probe into the incident, immediate arrest of the culprits who shot at high-tension power lines and caused death and injury to the people, compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the families of the deceased and Rs 3 lakh to each injured, as well as medical expenditure to be borne by the authority concerned and building good relations between the public and the administration.
Meanwhile, Assam Tea Labour Union Margherita adviser Bikash Dasgupta, president Shyamal Dey and circle secretary Madhab Das too condemned the Pengeree incident and appealed to the Tinsukia district administration to look into the matter seriously. The All Assam Muslim Yuba Parishad (Socialist) Margherita Regiol Committee and Assam Bihari garik Bikash Manch, Margherita president Dr Om Prakash Sahu also condemned the Pengeree incident.
Earlier in the day, bandh activists and picketers resorted to violence at several places in Tinsukia district, forcibly shutting down banks and business establishments as well as blocking highways, causing much inconvenience to the public. A large number of homebound students were stranded at bus stations while many government employees were uble to receive their salaries with banks hurriedly closing down.
Meanwhile, the deceased in the Pengeree incident have been identified as Sitamoni Garg (26), Sanjay Singh (13), Bihani Durga (36), Tara Halua (22), Chotelal Garg (25), Anita Das (27), Purnima Tanti (42), Dipak yak (25), Bihali Urang and Chayanika Lakhan, all from Pengeree-Duwamara area. Amid tight security, the bodies were handed over to relatives after post-mortem examition. The situation in and around Pengeree is tense but under control, though there are chances that it may deteriorate any time tonight, according to a source. The local people apprehending trouble, are demanding adequate deployment of security personnel in the vicinity of affected areas even as the Army carried out flag marches yesterday. The curfew clamped on Monday evening under Pengeree PS has not been relaxed, with civil administration and police officials camping in the area. Forest Minister Etuwa Munda too visited the area today.