The death of two youths allegedly aged below 18 years in an encounter with the security forces in Chirang district of western Assam late Tuesday night has sparked protests,forcing the state government to institute an inquiry by an additional chief secretary Wednesday. A magisterial probe was also announced at the district level.
Jiri and Pranjit Narzary were killed in an encounter after they allegedly fired at a joint team of Assam Police and the Army at Raidwongbari in Runikhata police station limits,close to the Bhutan border,at around 1.30 am Wednesday. The security forces recovered an AK-47 and a grenade from the youths,with official sources saying they were suspected to be members of the Songbijit faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).
In the morning,however,locals claimed the two and another youth who was injured and shifted to GMC Hospital in Guwahati were minor school students with no link to any militant group. Protestors first raised slogans and then pelted stones at the Runikhata police station,setting at least three motorcycles on fire and damaging a portion of a police quarter.
The police used cane charge,tear gas and fired in the air to control the situation.
State Home Secretary G D Tripathi said the security forces saw some people moving around suspiciously in Raidwongbari village well after midnight. When asked to stop,they fired,prompting retaliation. In the process,two persons died and one was injured, he said.
Tripathi said school records showed the three were below 18 but inquest by a magistrate recorded their age as around 20. We have reports NDFB Songbijit recently recruited a number of youths below 18. Despite that the government has ordered an inquiry by an additional chief secretary, he said.
Chirang Deputy Commissioner Virendra Mittal said the three were indeed school students but whether they were also members of a militant group and minors would be ascertained after a thorough probe.
Meanwhile,NDFB Sonbijit alleged in an e-mailed statement that the security forces killed two innocent students sleeping in a haystack. While one of the deceased was a class X student,the other was a class VII student,it claimed. Another student was killed in another fake encounter at Bijni in the district three days ago,the outfit claimed.