Curfew has been imposed at Doomdooma, Borapjan and Longsowal areas in Tinsukia district of Assam after communal clashes erupted between members Hindu and Muslim communities after an allegedly derogatory Facebook post insulting Hindu gods.
The comment about Lord Ram was made by one Aziz Khan, a resident of Doomdooma, in a Facebook post, after which local branch of Hindu Yuva Chatra Parishad (HYCP) filed an FIR with the Police on September 10 for hurting their religious sentiments. When no arrest was made even after four days of filing the FIR, HYCP activists decided to hold a protest in front of the Doomdooma police station.
Workers of Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad also decided to join the protest. When the protests were assembling near the police station, some people from the Muslim community reportedly arrived at the scene and started attacking the protesters with sticks, rods, knives etc weapons. During this attack, several protesters were injured and 7 motorcycles belonging to them were damaged.
Soon police and CRPF personnel arrived to control the situation, but some people, according to reports, started pelting stones from the nearby railway track. Several members of the public including women were injured in this stone pelting. At last, police managed to control the situation by using tear gas and firing in the air, and prohibitory orders were imposed in the area by the district administration.
Before this clash, another incident happened involving both communities. On the night of 13th September, there was a conflict between the organisers of Ganesh Puja and Muharram in the area, over the subject of playing instruments at high volume. Although that conflict was controlled by police before turning worse, tensions were already high between them and that added as a catalyst for the incident the next day.
The officer-in-charge of the Tinsukia police station stated that Aziz Khan has been charged under the IT Act and he has been absconding. The police in Doomduma added that there were instances of stone pelting and clashes on Friday where a crowd of around 2000 people had gathered on the streets. The police officials have stated that the situation has been under control.
Deputy Commissioner of Tinsukia, Oinam Sanankumar Singh, told The New Indian Express, “The superintendent of police is personally monitoring the situation at the sites. Adequate police and CRPF personnel have been deployed to the areas. If need be, we will clamp curfew. However, we don’t want to unnecessarily create apprehension in the minds of people.” “We learnt that he (Aziz) is from Dibrugarh. We will nab him soon,” he added.
Meanwhile, several Hindu organizations have called for a shutdown on Saturday following the clashes on Friday. “Aziz Khan had posted a comment against our Hindu God Ram. Even after filing an FIR, the police has not been able to arrest him. To protest against his Facebook post, we took to the streets yesterday but the police lathi-charged on us,” said one protester.
Assam has been going through a tense phase ever since the publication of the complete draft of the NRC. The NRC, which is an attempt to weed out illegal immigrants from the state after a drastic demographic shift, is also being targeted by politicians with vested interests looking to stoke negative sentiments in the state. Security forces have been maintaining extra vigilance on communally sensitive situations in the region.