Staccato sounds of gunfire broke the fragile peace of Sipajhar in Assam’s Darrang district on 23 September as police opened fire on protesting peasants who were protesting their forced eviction from their home and hearth where they were residing for decades. Two protesting peasants were dead in police firing and around 20 injured. The police brutality that followed after Hoque fell to the ground is inexplicable. The numbing sight of a photographer stomping on a motionless Maynal Hoque has been horrific. Just before the photographer indulged in his diabolic act, some of the policemen can be seen surrounding the wounded and fallen Hoque and raining nearly 20 baton blows on him. One policeman took deliberate steps towards the motionless Hoque, lifted his baton high above his head and landed a blow with all his might. It has overshadowed another feature of the video: the manner in which uniformed men were firing at civilians with the stated objective of restoring public order. Clearly, action of the police smacked of communal hatred against the poor peasants belonging to minority community. The content of the video has not been disputed yet. The way the police opened fire has been vehemently condemned by all right-thinking conscientious quarters, particularly when ‘‘encounter’’ deaths have clocked a spurt in Assam since the BJP-led government began its second term in May. There was a spontaneous bandh in the Darrang district in protest against this incident.
The Darrang district administration has so far forcibly grabbed 602.40 hectares of land by displacing around 900 families since 17 September , and demolished four ‘illegally’ constructed religious structures at Sipajhar defying Gauhati High Court’s directive against eviction during the pandemic situation. The public protest had erupted over the demand for rehabilitation of nearly 900 families forcibly evicted from the land by the BJP-led state government. Customarily, Darrang Superintendent of Police Sushanta Biswa Sarma, a younger brother of the BJP Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, claimed that the protesters, armed with sharp weapons, pelted stones at the police personnel and hence police opened fire in retaliation.
The poor peasants in the area have been subjected to repeated harassment by the BJP government since it came to power in 2016 since they belong to minority community. The BJP chief minister is reported to have made communal-chauvinist comment to justify this the eviction drive in a minority-dominated settlement. In fact, it is also alleged that communal riot was being instigated by the ruling power to evict these poor peasants from their home and hearth. This sad incident has once again unmasked the anti-peasant anti-poor communal face of the ruling BJP and that too on the eve of a countrywide Bharat Bandh call on 27 September given by Sanjukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) against the three Black Farm laws and Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2021.AIKKMS, a constituent of SKM , strongly protested this savage act of the fascist BJP government.