Suspected Bodo rebels kill 4 in Assam, injure 5
Assam’s state intelligence suspect that the Ranjan Daimary led anti-talk faction of the NDFB is responsible for the violence
Suspected Bodo rebels have unleashed a fresh spell of violence in different areas of western Assam leaving four dead and injuring at least five people in the past 24 hours. On 14 November, Wednesday afternoon, Asharuddin Sheik, a school teacher, was shot dead by suspected Bodo rebels at Kachugaon in Kokrajhar district while he was returning from work. Locals in the area informed police about the killing. One Ikramul Ahmed, who was accompanying Sheik, sustained injury bullet injury near NH 31 (C). Ahmed was rushed to Dhubri civil hospital for treatment. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has assured that his government will deal the situation with an iron hand.
Police Sources have said that the motorcycle borne gunmen fired indiscriminately on them. On Tuesday evening, one woman was shot dead while two others injured when suspected Bodo rebels opened fire at Shalbari under Kokrajhar district.
Since last Saturday, Kokrajhar and neighbouring districts under the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District (BTAD) has seen a renewed spell of violence after a lull of about three months. Two persons sustained bullet injuries when suspected rebels opened fire on Tuesday evening at Nakargaon. In yet another incident of terror, unidentified gunmen shot dead one person and injured two others at Golagaon under Simla police station in Baksa last night around 9 pm.
According to sources, the gunmen open fired at a makeshift camp where some labourers of a construction company were resting after the completion of their day’s work at a bridge construction site. A labourer identified as Nikleswar Barman succumbed to his injuries at the hospital. Two others – Lankeswar Barman and Pratap Singh were also injured and are undergoing treatment. Police recovered nine empty cartridges of AK-47 rifles from the spot.
Kokrajhar Police suspect the role of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) for the incident. Police sources have informed that in the fresh spell of killings in the area, cops have picked up 30 people for interrogation. Assam DGP Jayanto Narayan Choudhury had earlier claimed that the violence is ‘targeted killing’ and ‘not an ethnic conflict’ and the police are working on available intelligence to nab ‘certain forces’ who are trying to destabilize the law and order situation.
Assam’s state intelligence is putting the blame on the Ranjan Daimary led anti-talk faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) for the violence. The suspicion grew after the killing of renowned tea planter and businessman Atilur Rahman in Sonitpur district on Tuesday afternoon. According to police sources, the rebels fired at the vehicle of Mahaluxmi Tea Estate proprietor Adilur Rahman, at Nagda on the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border in Sonitpur district, when he was driving with his security guard Motilal Tirkey of the Assam Tea protection force (ATPF) towards Baihata Chariali. Rahman, succumbed to his injuries while on his way to the hospital, Tirkey who has now been referred to the Guwahati Medical College, is said to be critical.
Rahman, who is a prominent businessman, had earlier received extortion notices from NDFB — reason why the police suspect their role behind the killing. However, in a press release issued on Wednesday, B Samijing Asst. Information & Publicity Secretary, NDFB, said, “The NDFB elucidates that our party is not involved in killing Adilur Rahman, the owner of the Tezalpatty Tea Estate in Sonitpur district and incidents of firing in Baksa and Kokrajhar. This can be the handiwork of a third force with ulterior motives to derail the peace process with NDFB or some individual for their self-interest.”
The outfit further stated that since the beginning of the unilateral ceasefire “our cadres are strictly commanded to maintain order in the society to create congenial atmosphere for peace process. If our cadres or members fail to maintain the order, the party will take strong action”. The outfit has gone on to warn Assam media not to put the blame of these killings on them without verification.
With inputs from SK Brahma in Kokrajhar
Ratnadip Choudhury is a Principal Correspondent with Tehelka.