Guwahati: Police on Tuesday resorted to a lathicharge and took recourse to teargas shells and water cannons to prevent a large crowd of protesters from assembling at Dispur under the leadership of RTI activist Akhil Gogoi.
The protest, organised by Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), was in support of the demand for the granting of land rights to indigenous people residing in the hills.
Although the organisers said that several persons were injured in the melee, police denied those claims.
City SSP Anand Prakash Tiwari told a news agency, "Yes, at some places we used force to control the agitators, but there... was minimum use of force by the police.
"We had informed them four days ago that we cannot allow them to hold a demonstration with 15,000 people at Dispur. It is a very busy area with the secretariat complex and many hospitals, schools and other establishments," Tiwari said.
As per Supreme Court directives, any protest, even if it is a democratic one, has to obtain permission from authorities for going through, he said.
The protesters today were stopped from coming to Dispur at nearly a dozen places since morning. The police action brought the state capital to a virtual standstill with massive traffic snarls.
"We came in the morning for a democratic and peaceful `satyagraha` demanding land rights for indigenous people living for many decades in the hills surrounding the city. However, we were denied permission to hold this demonstration and our voice is being brutally suppressed," an agitator said.
Nearly 70 people, including Gogoi, were arrested, leading the agitators to block the main road to the airport. During the scuffle, some journalists were also hit.
"I request everyone to continue their protest in a democratic and peaceful manner," Gogoi said as he was being whisked away by police.
While Gogoi was taken to Bharalumukh police station, some of his colleagues were taken to Jalukbari police station.
Meanwhile, protests erupted at many places across the state after news of Gogoi`s arrest.