An indefinite curfew has been imposed in parts of Thelamara in Assam’s Sonitpur district since Thursday, August 6, following clashes between two communities over a rally organised to celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony in Ayodhya.
The clashes broke out after the rally, organised by local Bajrang Dal activists, was stopped by residents of Garuduba area which is a minority dominated area. As per reports, the residents had objected to the loud music being played and also pointed out that such rallies were banned due to restrictions owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the police, some miscreants later attacked the rally which was heading towards a Shiv Temple in Bhora Singori in Thelamara.
Following this, both sides engaged in violence in which several bikes and other vehicles were set on fire and 14 were injured. Reportedly, a police vehicle was also damaged and police officials who were there to control the situation came under attack. Taking stock of the situation, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has ordered the Director General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta to investigate the issue and make sure that the miscreants are brought to book.
Additional DGP (Law and Order) GP Singh, who visited the disturbed region, said, “We are going to hold detailed enquiry to fix the responsibility of those responsible for the clash. All, irrespective of any caste, creed or religion would be penalised if found guilty in the enquiry.”
Meanwhile, a regional daily Dainik Assam has reported that the opposition Congress and concerned citizens have raised questions regarding the rally after the district commissioner of Sonitpur district told media that no permission was sought before the rally. According to the report in Dainik Assam, citizens have raised question regarding why the rally had decided to visit the temple in Bhora Singori, taking a route which passes through a minority dominated region, instead of going to the nearby Gupteshwar Devalaya, an ancient Shiv temple. Questions have also been raised as to why the Bajrang Dal members took out a huge rally without permission and if their proximity to the ruling party guarantees immunity.
The Dhekiajuli committee of the Assam Jatiyotabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad has also released a statement on Thursday condemning the incident and demanding strict action against those responsible. The press release also appealed to the people to maintain peace and not allow outsiders to spread communal hatred.
The spokesperson of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee, Apurba Kumar Bhattacharya has demanded the ruling BJP to clear its stand on the issue. Demanding a thorough probe into the issue, the APCC spokesperson also highlighted another function organised in Nalbari district, flouting lockdown and social distancing norms.
In another incident, Hojai MLA Shiladitya Dev, who is known for his controversial and communal remarks, has issued a statement linking Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh with the Sonitpur incident. The controversial BJP leader’s statement has elicited criticism from several quarters for its provocative content.