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Kaziranga eviction: 2 killed, 19 injured in police firing

Two persons were killed and 19 others, including police personnel, were injured in mob violence and subsequent police firing during an eviction drive near Kaziranga National Park on Monday.

Police resorted to firing in Banderdubi area under Kaliabor sub-division of Nagaon district after protestors, demanding compensation before they were evicted, turned violent and attacked security forces by pelting stones at them, Assam Director General of Police Mukesh Sahay said.

"The eviction was carried out as per orders of the Gauhati High Court and the police used full restraint and minimum force to ensure that the land was cleared of encroachers," he said.

The situation turned violent and the police was forced to resort to lathi charge, tear gas and firing which led to the killing of two persons, including a woman, and injury to 19 others, including 15 police personnel due to stone pelting, the DGP said.

"There may be a possibility of the people being instigated by a section of people...we are investigating the matter and strict action will be taken as per law against those who provoked the people," the DGP said. Following the incident, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal held an emergency Cabinet meeting and directed that an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh be paid to the next of kin of those dead and Rs 50,000 each to those injured.

The Nagaon district administration had decided to carry out the eviction following a Gauhati High Court order in October last year that Banderdubi and Deochurchang areas under Kaliabor sub-division near Kaziranga National Park be cleared of encroachers.

Industry minister Chandra Mohan Patowary told reporters after the meeting that the state government was committed to the protection of Kaziranga and in no way would it disregard the directives of the High Court.

"The eviction was carried out as per the orders of the Gauhati High Court and even people of the state want illegal encroachers to be evicted from in and around Kaziranga," he said.

The Chief Minister had directed two senior ministers, Minister for Education and Health Himanta Biswa Sarma and Minister for Water Resources, Science and Technology and also the local MLA Keshab Mahanta, to meet the representatives of the two areas before carrying out the eviction.
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