In demand for a separate state of Kamatapur and ST status for the Koch Rajbongshi community, the All Assam Koch Rajbongshi Sanmilani staged a protest in Kokrajhar yesterday blocking rail lines for around eight hours. The situation was uncontrollable around 11 am. After the memorandum was submitted to the administration, the Sanmilini leaders called off the blockade but a section of the agitators refused to leave till 2 pm. The Sanmilani leaders including president Bireswar Saikia and general secretary Ranjit Kumar Ray left the place leaving behind the agitators.
Security personals had to resort to lathi-charge and firing in the air when the remaining protesters turned violent after they were asked to leave the railway track. According to police officials, the protestors first manhandled the Kokrajhar additional SP (Security) Kamal Gupta and later pelted stones at the security personnel, and damaged police vehicles, which forced the police to engage in blank firing and lathi-charge to disperse the mob.
The blockade hit railway traffic badly for several hours, disrupting railway communication with Assam and rest of the country. Rajdhani Express Dn was halted at Kokrajhar railway station, Bangalore Express at New Bongaigaon station and some trains at Alipur for several hours.
Five security personnel including one CRPF, one CISF were injured and seven vehicles, including one DSNG van of a private television channel, were damaged in the stone pelting. A total of 18 persons were arrested. A case has also been registered against the agitators.