Bodo militant attack in Assam kills 68 people; Rajnath visits Guwahati, high alert sounded
Tezpur (Dec. 24, 2014): Home Minister Rajnath Singh has reached Guwahati to take stock of the situation arising out of violence in Assam in which 68 people have been killed so far. A high alert has been issued in the state after separate incidents of violence since Tuesday evening. While 62 people were killed by Bodo militants on Tuesday, three adivasis were killed in police firing at Sonitpur and three Bodo villagers were killed by Adivasi villagers in Chirang on Wednesday. Curfew has been clamped in Kokrajhar and Sonitpur to avert any untoward incident.
The Home Minister will hold talks with the unified command. He will also assess the situation following the violence.
Before leaving for Guwahati, Singh said in New Delhi, "I will be going there today and will analyse the situation. And we will announce whatever steps need to be taken," Singh said.
Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said in New Delhi, "The security forces are already doing their job. Assam is requesting 50 extra companies of central forces which we will mobilise. It will be immediately done. It is very unfortunate this kind of violence has taken place. If we have to develop the northeast, peace must prevail."
A counter insurgency operation has also been launched in the state. Calling it an act of terror, the Home Minister said 50 companies of central armed forces have been sent to maintain law and order. Meanwhile, the Indo-Bhutan border in lower Assam has been also been sealed. The centre has assured Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi of full support.
Protesting against the violence in the state, Gogoi's effigies were burnt in Kokhrajhar. Hundreds of plantation workers armed with spears and bows and arrows defied a curfew imposed in response to the rebel attacks and surrounded police stations in Sonitpur district, claiming that the authorities had failed to protect them. Some protesters set fire to shops and others blocked a railway line and roads. Police said they had to disperse the crowds.
Pressure is also building on the Gogoi government to take action as sources say that intelligence warnings to the state police for a possible attack were ignored.
Condemning the incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the killing of innocent people an act of cowardice. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased," he tweeted. Modi said that he had spoken to Tarun Gogoi and assured all help from the Centre.
A series of attacks at four places in Sonitpur and Kokrajhar districts shook Assam on Tuesday night. Police said that the attack was unleashed by heavily armed militants belonging to the Songbijit faction of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) which is opposed to peace talks. The incident site is located near the Assam and Arunachal Pradesh border.
All those killed in Sonitpur attack were stated to be Adivasis, said Superintendent of Police Sanjukta Parasar. "The NDFB militants with sophisticated arms fired at people in Sonajuli under Biswanath Chariali sub-division in Tinisuti near the Arunachal Pradesh border," Parasar said.