Assam's Goalpara under control: Shinde
New Delhi, Feb 28 : Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Wednesday said the situation in Assam's Goalpara district where at least 14 people died in police firing and several others fell victim to ethnic clashes during the Panchayat election violence is under control and under regular surveillance now.
"At present situation in Goalpara District is under control and being monitored regularly. Curfew has been withdrawn from the affected areas from 15th February'2013. Army has also been de-requisitioned from 18th February, 2013," Shinde told the Rajya Sabha making a statement.
The matter concerning deaths of people in connection with the Panchayat elections in Goalpara due to large scale disturbances and violence resorted to by people protesting the elections was raised in Rajya Sabha.
Shinde said the Assam government had established a Rabha - Hasong Autonomous Council (RHAC) in 1995 through a State Legislation and the Council was primarily created for socio-economic, educational and cultural advancement of the Rabha tribe.
"There had been demands for inclusion of all Rabha villages in the Council. After long deliberations, 779 villages were notified as falling under RHAC. These villages are located within the geographical boundaries of Goalpara and Kamrup districts. From time to time, demands have been raised to bring the Council under the sixth schedule to the Constitution of India. Other tribes and non-tribals living in this area are opposed to this demand.
"It is to be noted that the RHAC being under a State Legislation, continuation of Panchayati Raj institutions in the area remained mandatory under Constitutional provisions," he said.
"When the Panchayat elections became due, the Rabhas demanded elections to RHAC to be conducted before the Panchayat elections. But the Council constituencies were awaiting delimitation. Considering this and other logistical and law and order issues, the State Election Commission decided to hold the Panchayat elections first in the month of February and the elections to RHAC on 30th April, 2013," explained Shinde.
He said out of the eight districts which went to third phase of the Panchayat elections on on Feb 12, 2013, polls passed off peacefully in seven districts.
"But in Goalpara District, it was disrupted by a large group of miscreants who attacked polling personnel as well as the security forces at many places. 25 security personnel and ten polling personnel got injured. The security forces had to resort to firing to control the violence at six places. This resulted in deaths of 14 persons," said the Home Minister.
"Other seven persons died due to ethnic clashes. Despite the disruption of poll process, polling could be completed successfully in 636 polling stations out of 807 polling stations going to polls in the district," he said.
The HM said in order to control the situation Army was deployed in the area. Besides, additional six companies Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) were provided to the State Government in addition to 43 companies of CAPF deployed in Goalpara District on Feb 12.
An ex gratia payment of Rs 5.00 (five) lakh to the next of kin of those killed in police firing and Rs 50,000.00 to the injured has been declared by the State Government, he said.
"Adequate compensation to those whose houses and other properties were damaged during the violence will also be provided. Necessary arrangements for food, shelter, health, sanitation and water supply facilities have been provided to the persons staying in the relief camps. As on 25th February, 2013, 14,888 persons were staying in the relief camps and 4,008 persons had moved to their native places/villages," said Shinde.
He said the state government has instituted a One Man Judicial Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice P.C. Phukan to enquire into the incidents.