New Delhi Correspondent
Protestors squatted on railway tracks, pelted stones at vehicles and burnt tyres on roads in some districts of Assam as a 12-hour state-wide general strike called to protest the killing of five Bangla-speaking men in Tinsukia district paralyzed life in Bengali-dominated Barak valley and some parts of Ahom-majority Brahmaputra valley on Saturday.
Except stray clashes between supporters and opponents of strike, the shutdown was peaceful across the state.
A delegation of West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress will visit Tinsukia tomorrow to meet the families of the people who were gunned down by suspected United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) militants on Thursday night.
Trinamool Congress lawmaker Abhishek Banerjee, kin of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, sought a court-monitored inquiry and called for the resignation of Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal over the incident. The shutdown in Assam was called by the Sadou Asom Bengali Yuba Chatra Federation and several like-minded organisations to protest the incident on Thursday night.
The Congress party is supporting the strike in Barak valley and so has the BJP in Hailakandi in the same region. Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts in upper Assam were exempted from the purview of the strike as the two districts had observed a strike on Friday.
Shops, business establishments, educational institutions and private offices were closed and vehicles went off the roads in the Barak Valley districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Karimganj.
Congress legislator Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha, who hit the streets to enforce the strike in Silchar, was detained by the police before being freed later, officials said.
In Brahmaputra Valley, demonstrators shouting slogans and holding placards demanding security for Bangla-speaking people came out in large numbers in the Lumding town in Hojai district and squatted on the train tracks.
They tried to disrupt the movement of Brahmaputra Express and Guwahati-Silchar passenger trains but were removed and the trains resumed their journeys, the official said.
Commercial establishments kept their shutters down and vehicles did not ply in Hojai district. Tyres were set on fire on the roads by protesters in Hojai district leading to the detention of 30 people, the police said.
Strike supporters also blocked highways and pelted stones at vehicles damaging several buses and trucks, they said.
There were reports of clashes between supporters and opponents of the strike at Jogighopa in Bongaigaon district but the situation was brought under control by the police.
At Dalgaon in Darrang district, 17 people were detained when they tried to prevent normal movement of traffic.
The strike had little impact in Assam’s capital city Guwahati where normal life continued with offices, commercial establishments, educational institutions and banks remaining open and vehicles plying, official sources added.
The Assam government had on Friday directed district deputy commissioners (DC) to ensure normal functioning in all government establishments, vehicular movement of traffic, and business establishments.
All security agencies were on high alert to prevent any breach of peace which might lead to law and order issues, a government order had said adding utmost vigil was maintained to prevent spread of any kind of rumour, hate mongering and communal discord.