Assam Police firing and the questions it raises
On September 23, a shocking video of the Assam police firing on a protester and beating him even after he went down,went viral. A government-appointed photographer, Bijoy Bonia, was seen stomping upon the dead body. Two persons were killed and 11 others, including nine policemen, were injured during the protest. The incident happened while the police were evicting some encroachment at Dholpur in Assam. Human rights activists have condemned unequivocally the police firing and the beastly act of the photographer jumping on the body of a protester who was felled by the police bullet.
First these poor Muslims’ huts are demolished in violation of court orders during rains. Then they are massacred by police & thugs. @DGPAssamPolice who ordered a huge police force to beat, fire at chest of one single man? Who is the civilian leaping on the body in glee? pic.twitter.com/lz4pwEM8nq— CPIML Liberation (@cpimlliberation) September 23, 2021
The Police claim that they resorted to firing when the people who were being evicted from the encroached land turned violent. But activists who were present at the scene point out that the police didn't follow the rules and simply started firing at the protesters without giving any warning. It is also reported that instead of firing below the knee some police personnel shot straight at the upper body of the protesters. Both Hoque ( 28) and Shack Farid (12) who got killed in the firing had wounds on their chests. The boy was killed on the very day when he received his Aadhaar card.
The immigrants from Bangladesh into Assam have been accused of violating the law of the land. And the BJP government both at the state and the centre have been talking tough to these immigrants.Though BJP didn't flag the controversial NRC or CAA in the 2021 assembly elections, they had promised that they would evict all the encroached govt lands and allot it to 'indigenous landless people.'
The second round of eviction started on September 20. According to the Assam officials, one village was already evicted 'peacefully'. The government has targeted 4 areas for eviction. The first phase was over in June this year.
On Thursday at Dholpur the police had targeted to evict 800 Muslim families. The families resisted the eviction since they were not informed about the resettlement. The activists opine that the protesters were agitated as there was no assurance from the authorities regarding the rehabilitation. Police claim that they were forced to shoot when the protesters began charging towards them with stones and sticks in their hands. But no reports have indicated any presence of firearms with the protesters. Two people were shot dead in the ensuing police firing.The government has ordered a judicial probe into the incident.
What is happening in Assam?
Assam has been in news for quite some time. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) was designed to find out illegal immigrants in the state. More than 19 lakh people were excluded from the list in which Bengali-speaking Hindus have been reported outnumbering the Muslims. This has led the BJP to have some rethinking on the implementation of NRC. It is alleged that CAA was brought in by the Modi government to pave way for the non-muslim immigrants to be awarded citizenship. Human rights activists have been at the forefront fighting against CAA which they feel violate the fundamentals of Indian democracy.