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No arrest yet in attack on milkmen

Volte-face by assailants

By Avik Chakraborty in Dibrugarh

  • Published 22.10.19, 12:31 AM
  • Updated 22.10.19, 12:31 AM
The gutted houses of milkmen at Charkholia Ramsing 'sapori' on Friday
The gutted houses of milkmen at Charkholia Ramsing 'sapori' on Friday Picture by Avik Chskraborty

No arrests have been made even three days after a settlement of milkmen was attacked by alleged TMPK members in Dibrugarh district of Upper Assam.

A mob of more than hundred people, allegedly members of Takam Mising Porin Kebang (TMPK), armed with spears, clubs and machetes, had attacked milkmen settled on the riverine island of Charkholia Sapori on Friday, leaving one person dead and several injured. The deceased has been identified as Murali Yadav, 55.

The mostly Hindi-speaking people are migrants from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

The student union also torched 10 houses at Charkholia Sapori, a remote sandbar situated in the middle of the Brahmaputra, which can be reached only by boat.

The TMPK’s Laimekuri unit in Dhemaji district had allegedly written to the milkmen on its letterhead demanding Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000 from each family in the village for the organisation’s 48th foundation day on October 16.

When the families, belonging to the Bhojpuri community, expressed their inability to pay such a hefty sum, they were threatened and intimidated. The milkmen approached the Dibrugarh deputy commissioner and superintendent of police for protection, four days before the incident, local said and alleged that no preventive measures were taken.

Pradip Yadav, a resident of the sapori, alleged, “I had submitted a memorandum to deputy commissioner Pallav Gopal Jha and superintendent of police Gautam Borah seeking protection but they did not take any step. Had the police taken steps earlier, this incident could have been prevented. We are poor farmers, how can we pay them the money they demanded? There is no security of our people. After the incident, many people have left their homes in fear.”

Dibrugarh additional superintendent of police (headquarters) Dhruba Bora said around 10 of the assailants have been identified and efforts are on to nab them.

“We have identified around 10 miscreants and action will be taken against them. The persons are absconding but operations are on to nab them. The situation in the area is under control now. A fixed picket of armed forces has been deployed there. On the involvement of TMPK members in the incident, we will be able to say only after investigation,” Bora added.

Local MP and Union minister of state for food processing industries Rameswar Teli has announced an ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh for the family of Yadav.

On Monday, a Congress delegation, comprising leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia, MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi and former MLAs Durga Bhumij and Etuwa Munda, visited the sapori to take stock of the situation.

Milk supply hit

The supply of milk was affected after 100 members of the Takam Mising Porin Kebang, a students’ union, attacked some members of the community at Charkholia Ramsing Chapori in Dibrugarh district of Assam on Friday.

While Yadav was killed, several were injured and another member of the community, Bijoy Yadav, was admitted to Assam Medical College and Hospital here with grievous injuries.

Every day, 5,000 litres of milk are supplied to Dibrugarh town from the chapori. Nearly 1,000 families have been living in the area for decades.

“After the incident, we stopped the supply of milk because many residents have fled to save their lives, some leaving their cattle behind. We are just poor milkmen living here for decades,” said Radheshyam Yadav.

“We are suffering losses because we cannot supply milk to our customers. Everyday we used to supply huge quantities of milk to the hotels and restaurants of Dibrugarh. Our business has been hit hard,” he added.

“We have been living here for decades but the Dibrugarh police have failed to provide security to our people. We submitted a memorandum to the superintendent of police to provide security but to no avail,” said Pradip Yadav, a resident of the sapori, which is also affected by erosion.

“If the milk supply does not resume, it will affect the hotels and restaurants,” said a resident here.

TMPK U-turn

The TMPK on Monday refuted the involvement of its members in the attack and urged the people of the state not to consider the incident a communal one, just a day after the its general secretary Padmalochan Doley said its anchalik committee members were involved in the case.

TMPK president Rajkumar Morang told The Telegraph, “We strongly condemn such an inhuman act. No culprits should be spared. We have instructed all TMPK members to help the police apprehend the culprits. If any member of the TMPK is found involved, we will hand him over to the police.” The TMPK central committee will send a delagation to the sapori.

Additional reporting by Debananda Medak in Guwahati