Assam death toll touches 44

Updated 07 May 2014
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Assam death toll touches 44

NARAYANGURI: Indian police discovered six more bodies of women and children Wednesday after a “barbaric” rampage by tribal separatists targeting Muslims in northeast Assam, taking the total number killed to 44, officials said.
The bodies were found as authorities continued their search of two districts in the remote tea-growing state where masked gunmen last week shot dead Muslim villagers including babies as they slept.
Police have accused tribal Bodo rebels of killing the Muslims whose migrant community has been locked for years in land disputes with the indigenous group in the state that borders Bhutan and Bangladesh.
Local media have reported that Bodos attacked the Muslims as punishment for failing to vote for their candidate last month in the country’s mammoth, staggered election that is drawing to a close.
“So far the death toll is put at 43. The killings were indeed barbaric with even five-month-old baby not spared,” Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told reporters from the worst-hit Narayanguri village.
“It is unfortunate that bodies are still being recovered and we have reports that 11 more people are missing,” Gogoi said.
A police spokesman traveling with Gogoi said the bodies of three children and two women were the latest found in the district of Baksa, about 210 km west of Assam’s main city of Guwahati.
The death toll has climbed from at least 32 on Sunday after a series of bodies were discovered in recent days, while several people wounded in the carnage on May 1 and May 2 have also died in hospital.

Gogoi said some 15 children, aged eight months to 14, left orphaned by the bloodshed were being sent to a charity-run home in Guwahati.
Villagers broke down in tears as they recalled their terrifying ordeals, while others pleaded with officials traveling with the chief minister to help shift them to hospital for treatment.
“I saw my mother and father dying in front of me. I managed to save myself hiding under the bed as masked gunmen put bullets in my parents,” 14-year-old Habiba Nessa told AFP.
Security forces have launched a massive hunt for the Bodo guerrillas blamed for the violence which has forced several thousand people to flee their homes in fear, officials have said.
The violence came during the final stretch of the general election that has seen religious and ethnic tensions flare and which Hindu nationalist hard-liner Narendra Modi and his opposition party were expected to win.
Police blamed the attacks on the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland, which has been demanding a separate homeland for decades, but the group has denied it was behind the violence.
Seventeen people were killed in clashes in the same region in January.
In 2012, ethnic clashes in the same area claimed about 100 lives and displaced more than 400,000 people.


Hong Kong protesters continue past march’s end point

Updated 21 July 2019
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Hong Kong protesters continue past march’s end point

  • Around 10,000 people gathered in Admiralty, the district housing the city’s government complex, despite orders from police to disperse immediately
  • Protesters repeated the five points of their 'manifesto,' which was first introduced when a small group of them stormed the legislature earlier this month

HONG KONG: Protesters in Hong Kong pressed on Sunday past the designated end point for a march in which tens of thousands repeated demands for direct elections in the Chinese territory and an independent investigation into police tactics used in previous demonstrations.

Around 10,000 people gathered in Admiralty, the district housing the city’s government complex, despite orders from police to disperse immediately. Others continued toward Central, a key business and retail district and the site of the 2014 Umbrella Movement sit-ins.

Large protests began last month in opposition to a contentious extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to stand trial in mainland China, where critics say their rights would be compromised.

Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, has declared the bill dead, but protesters are dissatisfied with her refusal to formally withdraw the bill. Some are also calling for her to resign amid growing concerns about the steady erosion of civil rights in city.

A former British colony, Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997, and was promised certain democratic freedoms under the framework of 'one country, two systems.' Fueled by anger at Lam and an enduring distrust of the Communist Party-ruled central government in Beijing, the demonstrations have ballooned into calls for electoral reform and an investigation into alleged police brutality.

Walking in sweltering heat, protesters dressed in black kicked off Sunday’s march from a public park, carrying a large banner that read 'Independent Inquiry for Rule of Law.' 'Free Hong Kong! Democracy now!' the protesters chanted, forming a dense procession through Hong Kong’s Wan Chai district as they were joined by others who had been waiting in side streets.

“I think the government has never responded to our demands,” said Karen Yu, a 52-year-old Hong Kong resident who has attended four protests since last month. “No matter how much the government can do, at least it should come out and respond to us directly.”

Marchers ignored orders from police to finish off the procession on a road in Wan Chai, according to police and the Civil Human Rights Front, the march’s organizers. Protesters repeated the five points of their 'manifesto,' which was first introduced when a small group of them stormed the legislature earlier this month.

Their main demands include universal suffrage — direct voting rights for all Hong Kong residents — as well as dropping charges against anti-extradition protesters, withdrawing the characterization of a clash between police and protesters as a 'riot' and dissolving the Legislative Council.                   

Protesters read the demands aloud in both English and Cantonese in videos released Saturday. “We did not want to embark on this path of resisting tyranny with our bare bodies,” they said, “but for too long, our government has lied and deceived, and refused to respond to the demands of the people.”

While the demonstrations have been largely peaceful, some confrontations between police and protesters have turned violent. In Sha Tin district last Sunday, they beat each other with umbrellas and bats inside a luxury shopping center. Demonstrators broke into the Legislative Council building on July 1 by moving past barricades and shattering windows.

Meanwhile, police officers have used pepper spray, tear gas, bean bag rounds and rubber bullets to quell the crowds.On Friday, Hong Kong police discovered a stash of a powerful homemade explosive and arrested a man in a raid on a commercial building.

Materials voicing opposition to the extradition bill were found at the site, local media said, but a police spokesman said no concrete link had been established and the investigation was continuing.