June 26, 2022

Assam: Protests against Agnipath Scheme: CPI(M) Condemns Police Crackdown

Isfaqur Rahman

THE police administration in Assam launched a crackdown against the leaders and leading activists of the SFI, DYFI and the AIKS with the aim to suppress peaceful democratic protests against the centre’s Agnipath scheme. The three organisations had given a joint call to stage protest demonstrations against the scheme on June 20. However, the police started to detain leaders of these mass organisations well in advance to foil their democratic protests. Strangely, the police did not spare even CPI(M) leaders.

A day before the scheduled protest, the police picked up SFI state secretary, Nirangkush Nath from the Dirak area in the Tinsukia district when he was attending a local conference of the SFI. He was detained on the fictitious ground of organising “bandh” on June 20, citing orders of the Supreme Court, Kerala High Court and the Gauhati High Court declaring “bandh” as illegal. As a matter of fact, no organisation in Assam gave a “bandh” call. Nirangkush Nath was released on the morning of June 20.

Similarly, kisan sabha state secretary, Tiken Das was picked up in the afternoon of June 19 from a meeting in Baligaon area in the Jorhat district. The meeting was organised in memory of kisan leader Mohan Borah who passed away a year ago. Tiken Das was released after a few hours. CPI(M) state secretariat member, Nayan Bhuyan was tracked down by the police in Kokrajhar Town around midnight and detained on the similar grounds of organising “bandh”. He was released in the afternoon of June 20.

CPI(M) state secretary, Suprakash Talukdar was served with a legal notice on June 20 by the officer-in-charge of Panbazar police station under the Gauhati Police Commissionerate. The notice, dated June 19, ordered him to withdraw the “bandh call”. He was also warned that if the bandh call was not withdrawn immediately, strict legal action would be taken. Actually, the call for bandh was concocted by the police themselves. The Party didn't even give any call for protest actions on June 20. Similar legal notices were served to a large number of district-level leaders of the SFI and the DYFI with almost similar texts and contents. What is more abominable is the fact that the Karimganj district police distorted the order of the Gauhati High Court, dated March 19, 2019, and stated that the court declared all forms of protest as “illegal”. In fact, the court declared unlawful acts, bandh, etc. illegal, not peaceful democratic protests as such. 

The CPI(M) Assam state committee held a press conference on June 20 and condemned the undemocratic and highhanded actions of the police administration. The police have been working at the behest of Assam chief minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma only to intimidate the opposition forces and suppress dissent and democratic protests, the Party said. The press conference was addressed by Suprakash Talukdar, Isfaqur Rahman, Central Committee Member, and state secretariat member, Ajit Das. The Party has demanded the withdrawal of the Agnipath scheme lock, stock and barrel. It also demanded the withdrawal of the legal notices served by the police in different parts of the state to intimidate the protesters and foil the peaceful protest actions against the Agnipath scheme.  

In spite of police intimidations and terror tactics, the SFI, DYFI and AIKS organised protests across Assam, condemned police actions and demanded immediate withdrawal of the Agnipath scheme which goes against the interests of national security, the country's defence and the job seekers as well. Protests were held in places such as Guwahati, Jorhat, Nagaon, Tinsukia, Sorbhog, Kalgachia, Kayakuchi. Some protesters were arrested in different places, including in Guwahati.