Dispur turns battle zone, saffron cadres and cops skirmish, Sonowal decries Gogoi regime's 'intolerance'
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Dec 9: Dispur turned into a war zone on Wednesday as police used tear gas, water cannons and stun gredes to foil a programme by the BJP to gherao the capital complex, leaving several protestors, including MP Ramen Deka, injured.
BJP supporters trooped into the city from various places, but most of them were detained before they could reach Dispur.
Police said some 2,300 protestors were detained at various places in the city, including Guwahati railway station, Maligaon, rengi, Sopur etc.
BJP supporters en route to Guwahati were also detained at places like Dudhnoi, Dhubri, Matiya, Rangiya, Amingaon, Jagiroad, Neelbagan, Lahorighat and Bilasipara.
Led by almost all its senior leaders, except State president Sarbanda Sonowal - who was monitoring the programme from the party headquarters at Hengerabari, the BJP supporters began marching towards Dispur from Khapara at 9 am, breaking barricades and raising slogans against the Congress government in the State.
There was heavy deployment of police along the route. Police tried to foil the march at several locations but could not prevent the BJP supporters from reaching Last Gate.
Stun gredes (sound bomb), tear gas and water cannons were also used by police at several locations.
MP Ramen Deka was injured in the police action and was admitted at a private hospital. Senior leader Bijay Gupta and at least eight other activists were also admitted at hospitals after they sustained injuries.
The traffic in the city roads went haywire in view of the protest. Commuters, especially office goers, had a harrowing time as several roads were chock-a-block with stranded vehicles.
Police commissioner Mukesh Agarwal, who also sustained injuries during the clash with protestors, claimed there was no firing on protestors.
"We used tear gas and stun gredes. They (BJP) did not have the permission to hold the programme. Moreover, CrPC 144 was in place preventing assembly of persons. We acted as per law. We cannot allow anyone to break the law," Agarwal said.
BJP leader and party's observer for Assam Mahendra Singh and several leaders were detained by police.
"The Tarun Gogoi-led government is resorting to most undemocratic means by preventing our members from staging peaceful protests. We are only protesting peacefully but the government has directed the police to use force. How can the government prevent the right to protest? It's everyone's right," State BJP president Sarbanda Sonowal told reporters at the party office later.
"Congress leaders had taken out a rally a few days ago to the Raj Bhawan in Guwahati to demand the ouster of the Governor. If Congress members can be allowed to protest, how can the government prevent BJP members?" asked Sonowal.
Sonowal said that police action on protesters has once again laid bare the level of Tarun Gogoi government's "intolerance".
"We were protesting against the corruption of the Congress government in a democratic way. But the Congress is afraid of democratic protests now as they know they are losing ground in the State. People of the State have realized how corrupt the Congress is," he said
Asked why the party went ahead even though it did not have the administration's permission for the programme, Sonowal said, "We had sent letter to the Commissioner's office seeking permission for the rally. As they did not reply to us, we thought we would be allowed to hold the protest."
On Friday, the party will stage demonstrations at districts and blocks to protest today's police action.
Sonowal also slammed Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi for failing to fulfill even two per cent of over 1,000 promises he has made to the people of Assam in the last fourteen years. "Where is the Rs 1000 crore announced for Barak Valley? Where is the Rs 100 crore announced for Dhemaji…tea growers are yet to get land pattas…" the State BJP president pointed out.