Guwahati: At least five people were killed and over 70 wounded, 30 of them critically, in a mob attack Saturday on tribal protestors in Assam's main city of Guwahati, officials said. Curfew was imposed in the Bentola area of the city.
A police spokesman said the clash took place when about 10,000 tribal people, backed by the All Assam Adivasi Students' Association (AAASA), took out a protest rally demanding Scheduled Tribe status for the community.
"Local residents of Guwahati and the protestors clashed in the streets after the agitators went on a rampage damaging about 100 vehicles and destroying shops. The angry locals retaliated by attacking the protestors in which five Adivasi people were killed," senior police official Rajen Singh told IANS.
Police fired in the air to disperse the protestors when they tried to break a security cordon to take out the march through the city streets.
"Local residents armed with sticks and iron rods, besides crude implements, attacked the fleeing protestors and beat them mercilessly," said Parag Moni Aditya, a witness.
Police and paramilitary troopers have since blocked a major stretch of the city to prevent the protestors from being attacked by the mob.
"More than 3,000 locals were involved in the mob attack," police official A Das said.
The injured, including women, were shifted to hospitals.
"The condition of at least 30 of the injured is very serious and the casualty figures might mount," a doctor at the Guwahati Medical College said.
The Adivasis are mostly engaged in Assam's tea plantations and account for about six percent of the state's 26 million people.