Bandh turns violent; 19 held, released

From Our Correspondent

 

Tura town wears a deserted look during 12-hour bandh called by Garo Hills State Movement Committee demanding Garoland on Thursday. (ST)

TURA: The dawn-to-dusk bandh call given by statehood activists in the five districts of Garo Hills led to a complete shutdown in the hills while the plains belt decided against leading to a clash in two different places.

19 students, who tried to enforce the closure in the Phulbari-Rajabala region on Thursday morning, arrested. They were, however, released on bail later in the day.

Groups of student volunteers in support of the bandh for a new state descended on Phulbari town, under West Garo Hills district, during the initial hours of the strike and assaulted two traders on the outskirts of the town for refusing to adhere to their closure diktats.

The entire plains belt region, comprising of Rajabala, Phulbari and Hallidayganj did not adhere to the bandh announcement and opened for trade and commerce causing resentment among the supporters of the statehood bandh.

Two Tata Sumos packed with student volunteers, reportedly from Tura, tried to enforce the bandh in Phulbari leading to public anger.

Following the assault on two local traders, an irate mob gave chase to the attackers forcing them to flee.

One of the vehicles with eleven student volunteers was intercepted on the Phulbari-Dadenggre route and its occupants taken into custody for the attack.

A second vehicle with eight other students that managed to give the slip was caught up by security forces in Dadenggre region.

The arrested students, all hailing from Tura, were transferred to Dadenggre after angry mob surrounded the Phulbari police station, where they were kep initially.

A similar case of forcible enforcement of the bandh also resulted in the torching of two motorbikes in Zekabari area of Garobadha, the same day.

Motorcycle borne youth descended on a village market at Chatibui, on the main road connecting Zekabari with Rajabala, and began forcing traders to close shops. This caused villagers to revolt and the bandh enforcers were compelled to flee on foot leaving behind a scooter and a motorbike which were set on fire and destroyed completely.

Barring the plains belt which witnessed heated differences between pro and anti-statehood activists, the Garoland bandh was near total in the rest of the region as the districts of South, North, East, South West and major hill portions of West Garo Hills closed down for the day. All important towns including Tura, Williamnagar, Baghmara, Resubelpara, Ampati, Dadenggre remained shut during the bandh hours called by the Garo Hills State Movement Committee (GHSMC) which includes major NGOs and the political party like GNC.

Govt official blamed: Meanwhile, the leaders for a separate state blamed a district official for the turn of events in the Phulbari region.”There was a false report that the bandh had been called off in the plain belt in view of the Idd celebrations which was not true. We believe the rumour was floated by the Civil SDO of Dadenggre which caused all the tension,” said Augustine Marak, general secretary of the GHSMC.He added that the separate state committee leaders had already curtailed the protest shutdown by a day to allow the minority community to celebrate the upcoming Idd. The civil sub-divisional officer of Dadenggre, Dikki D Shira, has denied influencing the traders and citizens of Phulbari region against the Garoland bandh.

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