Assam protests: Several injured in police action

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Guwahati : Twelve persons were injured in Assam's Kokrajhar district on Monday as police tried to disperse a mob disrupting train movement. The agitated people were demanding inclusion of the Koch Rajbongshi community in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category.

Police resorted to baton charge and firing blank shots in the air in Soutara under Gosaigaon area to disperse the protesters whose 'rail roko' agitation had disrupted train traffic across the state.

"The incident took place around 11.30 a.m., when the police suddenly resorted to lathi-charge. At least 15 leaders of Koch Rajbongshi Sanmilani were arrested," AKRSU leader Hitesh Barman told IANS.

The Sanmilani is an umbrella organisation of Koch Rajbongshi community and All Koch Rajbongshi Students' Union (AKRSU), who had organised the rail blockade.

Hundreds of people came out and sat on railway tracks at Soutara early on Monday following the shutdown call given by the Sanmilani. The call was supported by AKRSU and other organisations.

Those arrested include Koch Rajbongshi Sanmilani President Ranjit Rai and AKRSU General Secretary Bipul Rai.

"We had to resort to Rail Roko as the BJP governments both at the Centre and state are not paying heed to our legitimate demand for including the Koch Rajbongshis into the ST category.

"The BJP-led NDA had assured us of the ST status within six months of their coming to power in 2016, but has forgotten its commitment after winning the elections," said Rai.

Movements of a large number of long distance trains were disrupted and stopped at different locations.

The down Rajdhani Express and Guwahati-Bangalore Express have been diverted to run via alternative routes, Northeast Frontier Railway chief spokesman Pranav Jyoti Sharma said.

Two passenger trains -- Alipurduar-Kamakhya-Alipurduar and New Jalpaiguri-Rangiya of Rangiya and Alipurduar division -- were cancelled due to the Rail Roko at Choutara, he said.