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Protesters clash with police at site of Baghjan fire in Assam's Tinsukia; several injured

India Today logo India Today 24-07-2021 Hemanta Kumar Nath

Several people, including cops, were injured in a clash on Saturday between protesters and the police in Assam's Tinsukia district. A lathi-charge by the police to disperse the crowd preventing Oil India Limited (OIL) from clearing materials from its now-closed Baghjan oil well site is believed to have triggered the clash.

Earlier in the day, the Tinsukia district administration imposed section 144 of the CrPC in light of the Covid-19 situation and directed protesters to vacate the area.

However, the police resorted to lathi-charge after some irate protesters began pelting stones at security personnel. They even damaged a fire service vehicle deployed in the area.

Tear gas shells were also fired by the police in a bid to disperse the crowd.

Three protesters and four police officers were injured during the clash. They were rushed to Tinsukia civil hospital, said a top police officer.

What are the protesters' demands?

Hundreds of protesters protesting in Tinsukia demanded compensation for losses they incurred last year during the oil well blowout at Baghjan oil field.

Oil India Limited (OIL) has been trying to move out materials from its now-closed Baghjan oil well, but a section of the local people are resisting the move. These locals maintain that they will allow the site to be cleared only after the publicly-owned OIL pays the entire compensation due to them.

Tinsukia district Superintendent of Police (SP) Debojit Deuri told India Today over the phone that OIL has already paid the compensation amount to affected families following the NGT's directives.

"When the OIL authorities had been trying to move out the materials, vehicles from the site, a group of people blocked them," Debojit Deuri said.

Baghjan oil field fire

A gas well at the Baghjan oil field blew out during a workover operation on May 27, last year, and caught fire again on June 9, 2020. The fire at the gas well killed two firefighters. The tragic incident also forced many villagers living in nearby areas to flee their homes.

On September 9, an OIL electrical engineer died as a result of a high voltage electric shock while attempting to extinguish the fire at the Baghjan oil field.

The fire at the damaged gas well was brought under control only after a five-month-long effort on November 15 of last year.

Read | Assam: Baghjan gas well blowout 'killed', fire doused after five and half months, says OIL

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