Guwahati: On February 8, two Bolero vehicles with no number plates stopped by the house of Debojit Duarah, a local leader of the ethno-nationalist organisation Veer Lachit Sena, at Kukurapuhia village in Sasoni in upper Assam’s Dibrugarh district. Around 15 army personnel allegedly searched the house when Duarah was not present. A hue and cry ensued, which resulted in a Facebook live broadcast by a neighbour who recorded the raid.
Duarah now has demanded an inquiry, saying members of Veer Lachit Sena are being ‘systemically targeted’ because of their opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and taking part in protests against the law. Speaking to The Wire, he said that a ‘second Germany’ is taking shape in India as the government is trying to stifle voices of those who do not toe the government’s line.
On Thursday, members of Veer Lachit Sena held a press conference, saying there was an attempt to target members of the ethno-nationalist organisation. The targeting, they said, is to convince the organisation to tone down their stand against the contentious CAA. Veer Lachit Sena believes that the Act will result in ‘serious consequences’ to Assamese identity and culture.
‘Attempts to frame me’
Speaking to The Wire, Duarah said the soldiers were trying to ‘frame’ him. He claimed that during the raid on his house, the Army soldiers planted a gun at his house. He cited his involvement in anti-CAA protests as a reason for the establishment to ‘damage’ his reputation as he is a ‘soft target’.
“I was not at my house at that time of the raid. I was at my parents home, which is around 10-15 metres away from my home. It was around 8:30 pm on February 8, when two Boleros with 15 people in Army uniforms entered my premises. There were around 15 people. There was also a motorbike with two people in civil clothes. The two Boleros had no number plates. They forcibly entered my house,” he said.
Duarah said that his wife, who was home, was surprised and told the Army officers that he was not present. “She also told them that a female officer should be present. They said they were from the police and began forcing their way in. My wife raised the alarm and a neighbour stepped out and began filming the incident, broadcasting it live on Facebook,” he said.
The Veer Lachit Sena leader claimed that the officers had arrived with ‘malafide intent’. “I even suspect that the people in civil clothes were from the RSS. I am not scared but I demand a proper enquiry into the incident. I will not buckle down. They planted a gun in my house,” said Duarah, who is a farmer and cultivator.
‘Suspected ULFA (I) cadre’
The army had conducted a search operation at the Kukurapuhia village for suspected ULFA (I) cadres, according to a report in The Telegraph. Dibrugarh police then registered a case against Duarah. The case was registered on the basis of an FIR filed by members of the Army. It mentions that .22mm pistol and six rounds of ammunition were found at his house.
The Telegraph report also says that on Bipul Neog, who is the village headman of Kukurapuhia village, was called to the local police outpost and forced to sign a paper. He told the newspaper, “I was called around 9:30 pm to the outpost where I saw the army personnel. I got a bit wary. They asked me about Debojit and literally forced me to sign a paper which was said no harassment was meted out to any family member of during the search operations.”
Simanta Sarma, organising secretary of Veer Lachit Sena (Guwahati chapter), told The Wire that the organisation will not let the movement against CAA lose momentum. “We demand an enquiry on why we are being targeted one by one. This won’t stop us and we will continue the anti-CAA protests,” he said.