Aasaa bandh cripples life in western Assam

KOKRAJHAR/GUWAHATI: A 12-hour bandh called by All Adivasi Students' Association of Assam (Aasaa) in protest against the killing of its acting president Bosco Charmacko paralyzed life in western Assam on Wednesday.

Charmaco was killed by unidentified gunmen at Jacobpur under Gossaigaon police station in Kokrajhar district on Tuesday. His wife Rosabela Tudu was also injured in the attack.

The bandh hit some areas of Kokrajhar, Udalguri, Sonitpur, Darrang, Chirang and Karbi Anglong districts with vehicles remaining off the roads and business establishments downing shutters.

Though some government offices were open, attendance was thin. According to sources, the NH-31 was almost deserted throughout the day and long-distance buses and trucks stranded on the highway. Business establishments, markets, shops, banks and government offices in BTC areas remain closed throughout the day.

Supporters of the Adivasi leader dubbed the killing as a political murder as he was said to be planning to contest the Gossaigaon assembly seat held by the Bodoland People's Front (BPF) in the coming elections.

The students' body has demanded a CBI inquiry into the killing and immediate arrest of the culprits. His body was taken out today in a procession and later buried in his village at Padumbeel amid tight security. Police are yet to identify the culprits involved in the incident.

Over 300 picketers were picked up from different parts of Sonitpur district during the day, sources said. The bandh was supported by Birsa Commando Force (BCF), Adivasi Cobra Militant of Assam (ACMA), Adivasi Seva Samity, Adivasi Mahila Samity, All Santali Students' Union, AKRSU and AGSU. Arthemas Tudu, Chermacko's father-in-law, said, "I don't know who killed my son. I want stringent punishment for the killers."

On the other hand, Bongaigaon Police on Wednesday wielded batons on Aasaa activists in Bongaigaon when they resorted to vandalism while protesting the killing of Chermacko. Police took the step after a group of agitators indulged in closing down shops and damaging vehicles. Some Aasaa activists have also been arrested.