Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday hinted at the involvement of the Popular Front of India in the recent violence in Darrang district of the state during which at least two civilians were killed in police firing, ANI reported.
The Popular Front of India is a Kerala-based Muslim organisation that has been accused of terror activities in the past.
On Thursday, the Assam Police had opened fire at villagers of Sipajhar area of Darrang during a protest against an eviction drive. The state government has ordered an inquiry into the incident.
On Saturday, Sarma told reporters that members of the Popular Front of India visited the village prior to the violence “in the name of carrying food items to evicted families”.
He said that an intelligence report submitted to the state government said “certain people” had collected Rs 28 lakh in the three months before the eviction and told the villagers that the drive will not take place.
“When they could not resist eviction, they mobilised public and created havoc on that day,” Sarma claimed.
He added that the state government has names of six people who were involved in the alleged mobilisation of villagers against the eviction drive. However, the chief minister did not say who these people were.
“Various evidence are now emerging, implicating certain people, including a lecturer,” said the chief minister.
Sarma also claimed that the state government had taken consent from the villagers about the eviction drive and that they had promised not to resist the move.
“I explained same thing to [Opposition party] Congress...They agreed with me and appreciated the decision,” the chief minister said. “They created mayhem the next day.”
The Assam government had been widely criticised for the manner in which the police handled the situation on Thursday.
A video widely circulated after the incident showed policemen opening fire and then falling upon a protestor who was running towards them with a stick. A few seconds later, he lied motionless on the ground, apparently shot in the chest.
A photographer accompanying the police desecrated the body of the man. The photographer, Bijoy Bonia, reportedly a government cameraperson, was later arrested. The Assam Criminal Investigation Department has registered a case against him.
However, on Saturday, Sarma sought to defend the police action claiming that the villagers had attacked them first.
“You have to see the entire video,” the chief minister said, according to NDTV. “The protestors first attacked with a sharp shovel. But we don’t justify or support retaliation. If you have to pick up a part of the video clip, you should show the entire clip, the entire sequence.”