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Four rioters shot dead in Assam

Mob rampages over Muslim man's mysterious death

  • ucanews.com reporter, Guwahiti
  • India
  • April 30, 2013
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Four people were killed when police opened fire on rioters in the Goalpara district of Assam state on Monday. An estimated 15 people, including eight policemen, were injured and a curfew was imposed, which remains in place.

“There is still a curfew in the area which could be relaxed later in the day but the situation remains tense and senior police and civil officials are on high alert,” Shyamal Prasad Saikia, superintendent of police, told ucanews.com.

The incident was sparked when a 3,000-strong Muslim mob went on the rampage over the mysterious death of 46-year-old Taher Ali, a local cowherd.

Police opened fire to control the mob, which began rioting after Ali’s body was found in the Mailapathar area. He had been missing since Sunday morning.

The mob blocked roads and attacked police with sticks and stones when they tried to stop them from setting a man on fire. The unidentified man died of his injuries later in hospital.

Vehicles of the superintendent of police, the local executive magistrate and other officials were also attacked and damaged in the clashes.

When Ali went missing on Sunday, a rumour spread that he was kidnapped by a group of Bodo tribespeople dressed in army uniforms. When his body was found on Monday, the Muslim community was convinced that the killing was carried out by members of the Rabha National Security Force, a local insurgent group.

But police and district administrators have not confirmed the involvement of any insurgents in Ali's killing. "It cannot be called an ethnic clash," Saikia said. 

However, ethnic tensions between Bodo tribespeople and the Muslim minority are rarely far from the surface in the region. Last year, clashes between Bodos and Muslim settlers from neighboring Bangladesh claimed 79 lives and left 400,000 homeless. There was further violence and a curfew during elections in February, resulting in 20 deaths and a major military deployment to restore calm.

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