Udalguri/Guwahati: A Congress party office and three trucks were on Thursday set ablaze in Udalguri district and vehicles damaged in Baksa district in lower Assam where police fired in the air to disperse persons using force to impose the bandh in the area.
During the 12-hour BTAD bandh, called by the Rabha Hasong Joint Action Committee, unidentified persons poured kerosene on the Congress office, Rajib Bhavan, at Tangla in Udalguri district and set fire to its wooden doors and windows, police said.
The police fired in the air at Kalaigaon to disperse a group of persons using violent means to impose the bandh by forcing shop-owners to close down their shops. At Khoirabari in the same district, some persons torched three trucks and blocked roads to prevent movement of vehicles. In neighbouring Baksa district, a car and two trucks were damaged. The bandh enforcers stopped movement of all vehicles in the area, threatening to destroy them, police sources said.
The bandh, supported by the Rabha Hasong Students Union, was called to protest against the alleged killing of people of the Rabha Hasong ethnic community in police firing and clashes in Goalpara district during the panchayat elections on February 12.
Markets, shops, offices, banks, educational institutions remained closed and vehicles kept off the roads in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) comprising Kokrajhar, Udalguri, Baksa and Chirang districts, the sources said. The death toll in the panchayat violence, meanwhile rose to 20 as two houses were set ablaze last night in fresh incidents on the outskirts of Goalpara town. Two fire brigade personnel, who had gone there, also received bullet injuries.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said the state government would recommend a CBI enquiry into the incidents. Though counting of votes of the three-phase panchayat elections began today across the state, the counting in Goalpara district was postponed for tomorrow with the entire exercise now to be completed within one day, official sources said.
The indefinite curfew continued in Krishnai and Mornoi areas, the sources said. The movement of people by river and other water-bodies in the district between 3 pm to 7 am was banned by the district administration till further orders to prevent movement of trouble-makers.
The Army, deployed since the poll day, was carrying out flag marches in the trouble-torn areas of Goalpara district, which is the nerve centre of the Rabha Hasong Joint Action Committee, which is opposed to panchayat polls.
The RHJAC has been demanding holding of the RHAC polls ahead of the panchayat hustings as the village and panchayt committees would undermine the authority of the Autonomous Council.