Kokrajhar killings: Toll rises to 10, senior Bodo leader arrested with illegal weapons
Mono Kumar Brahma was arrested from his Kokrajhar residence, police recover two AK series rifles
Photo: Ujjal Deb
Curfew in Assam’s trouble torn Kokrajhar district continued for the third consecutive day, as the death toll increased to 10 in last seven days. While four people were shot dead on Friday night, a Special Police Officer (SPO) has been injured by unknown assailants on Saturday evening, his automatic rifle was also stolen. In raids across the area, police have recovered around 100 illegal weapons.
On Friday 16 November at around 10.30 pm, unidentified miscreants opened indiscriminate fired at Jiaguri village in Kokrajhar district bordering Dhubri killing four and injuring three others. The victims were from the same family. The villagers had moved to the village from the Tilapara Relief camp one-and a half months ago. Police claimed that a huge cache empty cartridges were recovered from the spot.
In yet another incident on Saturday evening at Serfanguri in Kokrajhar, a SPO deputed to a private construction company was injured when unknown assailant riding a motor bike came to the work site and fired several rounds on the on duty SPO . The SPO, Biraj Das, sustained a bullet injury, the attackers fled away snatching his SLR rifles. He has been rushed to a private Hospital in lower Assam’s Bongaigaon and his condition is said to be critical.
The Assam Police has also arrested senior Bodoland Peoples’ Front leader Mono Kumar Brahma from his Kokrajhar residence on Saturday for possession of illegal fire arms. Police have recovered two AK series rifles and 60 rounds of ammunition from his house. Brahma is also an executive member of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and was elected from the Banargaon BTC seat.
“We raided his house and picked him up at around 4.30 am on Saturday. We found illegal arms in his house,” said additional superintendent of police (Security), Hiranya Kumar Barman. A case (number 2542/12) has been registered in Kokrajhar Police station under section 120B/121/121A/122/153A/109 IPC, R/W within section 25-1A of the Arms Act. Brahma was produced in court later in the evening and remanded to police custody for two days. Police sources added that the recovered arms will be sent to the forensic laboratory to see if it was used in the recent violence. Assam Government has withdrawn all house guard and escort from the executive members and VIPs of BTC, added sources.
However, Brahma’s family claims that Kokrajhar additional special superintendent of police (SSP) Surjeet Singh Panesar, who led the operation, had planted the weapons in Brahma’s bedroom. “There is a political conspiracy against our party and the Police administration in order to safe guard themselves are trying to target our leaders. There are certain forces who wanted to destabilise the process of rehabilitation of the riot affected people, they are killing innocent , the cops are now under pressure” said BPF leader and Assam’s transport minister Chandan Brahma , hinting that his party may consider leaving the alliance.
Kokrajhar remains tense; Assam police say area has a huge cache of illegal arms
Curfew in the district extend for the next 36 hours as another woman was injured when fired at by suspected rebels
The situation remained tense in lower Assam’s Kokrajhar district following the deaths of at least seven people since Saturday 10 November. One woman was injured Friday evening when suspected rebels fired at her in Nolobari village, Kokrajhar district. A curfew remained in place for the second consecutive day as the Army conducted flag marches across the district.
Assam DGP Jayanta Narayan Choudhury, who was in Kokrajhar on Friday to review the situation, has expressed his concern on the presence of huge number of illegal arms in the region that has added to the tension in Western Assam.
Talking to reporters, the DGP said that the security forces will intensify their drive against the illegal firearms, given the recent violence. Both the warring sides have access to these illegal firearms. The senior policeman told reporter that at least 100 automatic firearms were in said to be with the groups in the area. “The changing local dynamics resulted in the recent incidents. We are addressing them and hopefully the earlier situation will not be repeated” the DGP added.
Assam government has maintained that these recent killing are not communal in nature and are due to ‘local factors’. “Most of the incidents are isolated in nature, said the DGP.
Kokrajhar Deputy Commissioner Jayant Narlikar said that curfew was imposed in the whole district for the next 36 hours. A former MLA Hamendra Nath Brahma, was detained with others across the district for violating the curfew orders.
One more dead in Kokrajhar, indefinite curfew imposed
So far eight people have died in a fresh spell of violence, which started 10 November; Army called in for flag march
One more death in the Bodoland Territorial Administered Districts (BTAD) in Kokrajhar town has pushed the district administration to impose an indefinite curfew in the area. Thursday’s death takes the casualty to eight ever since fresh violence broke out in the district on 10 November. The violence has erupted after a three-month lull following the deadly ethnic riots between Bodo tribals and Muslim settlers.
A vendor from Sahajuri village was shot dead at Tilipara under Gossaigaon sub division around 7.30 am and another person was stabbed in the chest at a Kokrajhar weekly market around 9 am on Thursday. The injured person was rushed to the RNB Hospital and his condition is said to be critical. The Kokrajhar district administration has imposed an indefinite curfew after the law and order situation deteriorated.
Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has named National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) to be responsible for the violence. He has asked the authorities to carry out an extensive operation to nab the culprits, stating that there are strong inputs that NDFB’s anti-talk faction is behind the killings. While more force is being rushed to Kokrajhar, the Army has been called in for a flag march.
With inputs from SK Brahma in Kokrajhar
Ratnadip Choudhury is a Principal Correspondent with Tehelka.