The Congress on Sunday urged Assam Governor Jagadish Mukhi to direct the state government to institute a judicial inquiry into the protests against the amended Citizenship Act that claimed five lives. The party demanded that the inquiry should be carried out by a sitting judge of the Gauhati High Court. While officials said that four persons had died in police firing, the protesters claimed that five persons had died in the firing during the agitations against the contentious law. One person also died as a tanker was set on fire amid protests in Sonitpur district.
There should be an inquiry whether excessive force was warranted against the protesters and the Model Rules adopted by the Inspectors General of Police Conference, 1964 were adhered to while carrying out lathi-charges and firing on the protesters, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Debabrata Saikia, said in a letter to the governor.
"The inquiry should find out whether a magistrate was present at all the places where firing took place, a clear warning was given before firing commenced, aim was kept low as some victims were reportedly shot in the head or chest, and any other method of crowd-control was tried before firing began," Saikia said.
It is also important to ascertain whether certain members of the state government or the ruling party "intentionally" provoked people to come out on the streets and register protest on a massive scale.
It is pertinent to inquire whether there is any evidence to support the claim made by certain members of the Central government, and the ruling dispensation in Assam that the violent aspect of the agitation is being engineered by the Congress to discredit the BJP, the letter said.
Another important aspect of the ongoing unrest and impasse is the state governments action of arresting KMSS chief Akhil Gogoi, pro-talk ULFA leader Jiten Dutta, some members of Opposition political parties, including three Congress workers in Majuli as they participated in the protests when they were merely exercising their constitutional right to protest peacefully, Saikia said.
"It is not a healthy sign for our democracy that critics of the government are locked up at the first sign of public resentment and I request you to advise the state government to release all such detainees immediately and unconditionally," he added.
Alleging that the state government, headed by Sarbananda Sonowal, has lost the trust and confidence of the majority of the people of Assam, he said, now the chief minister is acting as if Assam is under Presidents Rule.