Yakub Ali, a 22-year-old Muslim man, was killed when the police opened fire against protesters at Kharboja Village of Goalpara District in Assam. The protesters were marching towards National Highway 37 to demonstrate against the alleged harassment of D (doubtful) voters by the Border Police and Foreigners Tribunals. The rally was led by an advocate named Nazrul Islam, along with two other advocates.
Currently, as per the directives of the Supreme Court, nearly 100 Foreigners Tribunals are reviewing the list of D-voters. Election Commission identified D-voters were put on that list by the Election Commission stating lack of proper citizenship credentials and thereby dropping their names. Hundreds of such voters, mostly Bengali-speaking Muslims and Hindus of Bangladeshi origin, have been lodged in detention centers across the state. On June 30, the protesters assembled as per the call of Advocate Islam who stated in a leaflet that the rally demands to put an end to the “injustice meted out to Assam’s Muslims and Bengali Hindus.” The leaflet further read, “The national highway would be blocked on June 30 from Makori to Sulmara and Pancharatna and Naranarayan Setu against the injustice”, and it urged the protesters to be non-violent.
The words of an eyewitness, Hussain Ahmed Madani, quoted as “About hundred people raising slogans demanding inclusion of genuine citizens in the NRC were stopped close to Naranarayan Setu (a bridge over river Brahmaputra) by the police asking them for the permission letter to hold the protest. CRPF personnel were also present. The aim of the protesters was to block the National Highway 37 which connects Goalpara to the neighbouring Bongaingaon district (and thereafter to West Bengal). Though the protesters had applied for permission, it was not granted by the police.”
While, Goalpara superintendent of police Amitava Sinha said:"When the police and CRPF personnel prevented them from blocking the highway, the protesters started pelting stones at them and at passing vehicles. The security personnel had to resort to a lathicharge and fire a few rounds in the air to bring the situation under control”.
Sinha added: "After being recently released on bail, Islam had sought permission for a road blockade but was denied consent. Yet, he and his supporters went ahead with the blockade. We arrested a few of them while they were on their way to the protest venue but some managed to reach the venue and tried to block the highway".
Rezaul Karim Sarkar, general secretary of the All Assam Minority Students Union, said, "It was a calculated plan of the Goalpara deputy commissioner and the SP to unleash violence on people from the minority community. We demand stern action against the police officials involved in the killing of an innocent picketer."
Opposition parties condemned the Goaplara police firing and demanded a judicial enquiry.