Guwahati, Thursday, November 25, 2010
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AASU activists vandalise Vishal Mega Mart stores

 GUWAHATI, Nov 25 (IANS) - Hundreds of activists of the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) Thursday vandalised at least three Vishal Mega Mart shopping malls in Assam. About a dozen students were injured when police used batons to disperse them.

AASU accused the shopping chain of defaming it, two days after a newly floated students' forum released telephonic conversations between a Vishal Mart executive and an AASU leader regarding monetary transactions.

Malls in Guwahati, Jorhat and Dibrugarh were attacked, a police officer said.

"In all the three places, about 100 AASU activists sneaked past security barricades and started pelting stones. They then entered the premises and resorted to large-scale vandalism," he said.

At a press conference Tuesday, the Forum of Ex General Secretary Post Graduate Students Union of Gauhati University released an audio tape where AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya was heard talking about receiving Rs 2 lakh from an official of Vishal Mega Mart shopping chain.

AASU admitted to accepting donations from business houses, and said it was not doing "anything wrong".

AASU also forcibly closed down six Vishal Mega Mart malls Wednesday - in Guwahati, Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Tezpur, and Silchar - and asked the management to tender a public apology before opening the outlets.

"There was no request from Vishal Mega Mart management for providing security. We were caught unawares by AASU activists," the police officer added.

AASU has warned of more attacks if Vishal Mega Mart did not apologise.

AASU commands the support of an estimated five lakh students in the state. It spearheaded a violent six-year anti-outsider agitation in 1979.

It is active in raising issues of Bangladeshi migrants, mega dam projects, and corruption.

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