The Telegraph

Jorhat, Jan. 20: The death of a 20-year-old youth, Lalit Moran, in alleged army firing inside a reserve forest under Digboi police station in Tinsukia district today has created a furore, with locals blocking NH38 claiming that he was innocent.

The Tinsukia district administration ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident this evening and Tinsukia deputy commissioner S.S. Meenakshi Sundaram said over phone that he had asked Margherita sub-divisional magistrate Palash Ranjan Gharphalia to conduct the probe. He said senior police and administration officials were trying to negotiate with the protesters at Tingrai on the highway to withdraw the blockade.

Sundaram said no “clear information” was available about the youth’s death, as police had informed him that an army team was conducting an operation inside the Kakajan-Duarmora reserve forest, where Lalit was allegedly killed. “We are awaiting a report on the incident from the army,” he said.

Sources said Lalit was allegedly killed in the crossfire during a gun battle between army and suspected rebels.

Locals, however, alleged that Moran, a resident of Tingrai Tamuli village near the forest, was shot dead by the army on suspicion of being an Ulfa cadre, which he was not. He had allegedly gone to the forest to collect firewood.

Police sources said there was no information or record available with the department about the youth being associated with any militant outfit.

Tinsukia superintendent of police P.P. Singh, while acknowledging that an army team was carrying out an operation inside the forest, said so far, no information on Lalit’s involvement with any rebel outfit had been established.

He said he, too, was awaiting a report from the army.

Earlier in the day, security forces recovered two IEDs buried in the backyard of one Biswajit Moran’s house at Hahkhati Pathargaon under Kakopathar police station in the district. Moran was subsequently arrested.

The police said about 8kg of powder suspected to be RDX was recovered along with the explosives.

In another incident, two bottle grenades were recovered late last night during a police checking at Bokapara Tinali under Doomdooma police station from two motorcycle-borne youths coming Filobari towards Doomdooma town.

The police said the duo fled the site on seeing the police team, shooting at the policemen as they ran. The two grenades might have fallen off while they were escaping.