Shocking Video Shows Police Firing and Killing Protestors in India

26, Sep 2021 | Shamani Joshi

Horrifying images of police brutality emerged from the Indian state of Assam, where police killed at least two protesters.
Shocking Video Shows Police Firing and Killing Protestors in India  (1)

A viral social media video shows a group of armed police from the Indian state of Assam shooting a protester who was running towards them with a stick, and then continuing to fire at the man even as he fell from the shots. A state media photographer then approaches and stomps on the motionless body.

At least two protesters were killed in the clashes, including the man in the video, according to police. Nine policemen were injured, but sources on the ground say the death toll among civilian protesters may be higher.

The state government has ordered an inquiry into the incident, while police have arrested Bijoy Bonia, whom they allege was the photographer in the video.

The viral video and several others circulating on social media were taken during clashes between police and protesters in Assam’s Darrang district, where hundreds of families were fighting against their eviction from land they have lived on for decades. The families whose homes were being demolished were largely of Muslim-Bengali descent, a minority in India.

The state government ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has called for a series of eviction drives on “encroachers” across Assam to make room for an agricultural project. However, civil rights activists and journalists have criticized the government’s attempts to evict communities from their homes without providing them the means to re-establish themselves in a new location.

Teesta Setalvad, a civil rights activist working with the protesting families, called it a forced eviction. “This has been a systematic policy that has been developing since May, which is [dehumanising] the state’s own citizens.”

In August, about 200 of the evicted families challenged the order in the state’s high court. The government filed an affidavit claiming the land the families were occupying was state-owned. The petitioners were supposed to respond to the government’s claim before any action could be taken, but the eviction reportedly proceeded before they could do so.

Setalvad pointed out that India’s Supreme Court had also issued a directive against evicting families during the pandemic without prior notice. She added that many of the families that were protesting had cultivated the land for decades.

“In many parts of India, these land distress sales take place without paperwork,” Kavita Krishnan, the Secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, told VICE World News. “There has also not been any proper rehabilitation done, which is why these families were protesting.”

Assam’s chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma refused to stop the evictions. “The police has been entrusted with the responsibility of clearing the land from encroachers, and they will continue to do it ‘til the job is done. Eviction will stop once it is dark and will resume again tomorrow,” he said in a press conference on September 23.
The original piece may be read here


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