Sualkuchi (Assam): The Army was deployed and indefinite curfew clamped on Saturday in the silk town Sualkuchi in Assam's Kamrup (Rural) district following protests against use of artificial silk during which 10 persons were injured in police firing.
The district administration called in the army after imposing the prohibitory orders under section 144 CrP C from 2:00 pm to contain a second day of protests by weavers who called a 12-hour bandh, official sources said.
Personnel of the Army's Punjab Regiment were patrolling the town along with police and paramilitary forces, the sources said. The protesters, including weavers and local people, converged on the main market area in the morning and urged the
State Bank of India branch to down shutters as a bandh was on, the sources said.
The mob then forcibly took out goods from the shops selling clothes labelled 'Assam silk' and made bonfires of them on the roads claiming they were not genuine pure Assamese golden Muga Silk and white Paat Silk unique to the state.
When the protestors refused to disperse and hurled stones at the police which used teargas and rubber bullets, firing was resorted to injuring ten persons, the sources said. Additional Superintendent of Police Hemanta Das was injured in the stone-throwing. Of the injured persons, three were taken to Gauhati Medical College Hospital, the sources said.

Expressing concern over the situation, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said while the apprehensions expressed by the handloom weavers were genuine but nobody should take the law into their own hands. "The handloom industry has to be saved but we do not believe that burning clothes brought from outside is the solution. We believe nobody should take the law into their own hands," Gogoi told reporters.

Education and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, under whose constituency Sualkuchi falls, said the situation in the town was tense. He said he had ordered the best treatment for those injured in the police firing.
On complaints about police brutality, Sarma said "I have just returned from New Delhi and I am not yet completely aware under what circumstance the police took action. But I will ask the DC to hold an inquiry into the matter."
He said he had asked the DC of Kamrup Rural district to call a meeting with weavers tomorrow to discuss the issue.


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