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Killing sparks highway fury
Nagaon, Feb 19 (AGENCIES):
Published on 20 Feb. 2009 12:02 AM IST
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Hundreds of protesters blocked National Highway 37 and laid siege to a police station Wednesday after forest guards shot dead a truck driver when he refused to stop at a Koliabor check-gate Tuesday night. Three forest guards, alleged to be in an inebriated condition, signalled a cement-laden truck to halt at Kanchanjuri check gate under Bagori forest range in Koliabor around 10.30 last night. Kasem Ali, 35, drove past, not bothering to stop The guards then pelted the vehicle with stones, prompting Ali to step on his brakes. An altercation began when the guards forced Ali out of the vehicle. After a few moments of heated exchange, the guards shot Ali from point blank range. The driver’s handyman watched the entire episode sitting atop the truck, too afraid to disembark. Jakhalabandha police said some people travelling on National Highway 37 reported to them around 11pm that a body was lying on the road behind a truck. “Initially we thought it was a militancy-related case. However, it soon became clear what had happened. The guards had initially denied their hand in the case but later confessed to their involvement before the police this morning,” the officer in-charge of the police station, Robin Choudhary, said. The trio, Lakhinandan Banhai, Prafulla Borua and Jiten Dutta, were arrested this morning and two .303 rifles seized. The truck, partially damaged by the stone shower, was taken to Bagori outpost this morning. Handyman Budhbor Boro later narrated the whole incident. “I was on the top of the truck. The driver stopped it when stones were being hurled. They pulled him out and asked for his driving licence and registration certificate. They made it a ‘prestige issue’ that Ali had not stopped the truck. The three then beat Ali up and shot him from point blank range even as he lay on the ground, weak from the assault,” Boro said. “Out of fear, I remained silent. I got off the vehicle only when the police reached the spot,” he said. As word spread about the killing, hundreds of people today gheraoed the nearest Haiborgaon police outpost and blocked National Highway 37, demanding a high-level inquiry. Nagaon deputy commissioner J. Balaji said the administration was waiting for a formal representation to order an inquiry into the incident. “Magistrate Hara Prasad Bora visited the protest site. We assured the people that the guilty would be punished,” Balaji said. This is the second incident in the past fortnight involving trigger-happy inebriated security personnel in the state sparking intense protests. Last week, a seven-member group of India Reserve Battalion (IRB) jawans fired indiscriminately at villagers, leaving four injured and 17-year-old Parboti Terangpi dead at Phonglokpet under Bokolia police station in Karbi Anglong district. The villagers rose in protest, damaging the police station, leaving two police constables injured. The district administration was subsequently forced to shift the IRB post from the area to pacify the people.

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