In what is being seen as the worst attack by the breakaway Songbijit faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), an Additional Superintendent of Police was killed in an ambush in Sonitpur district of Assam on Tuesday morning. Three of the five policemen injured in the attack are reported to be critical.
According to reports, Sonitpur Addl SP Gulzar Hussain, 36, was returning from a night-long operation against the NDFB(S) in a dense jungle area on the Assam-Arunachal border when the police convoy was ambushed in Mauriapur village, under Dhekiajuli police station, at around 8:20 am. A police informer who was in Hussain’s vehicle was also killed in the gun battle which lasted for nearly 20 minutes.
The Assam Police team were in three vehicles and a tractor. Hussain suffered two bullet injuries on his head and one on his leg. He was declared “brought dead” at the Civil Hospital in Tezpur, the district headquarters.
Sub-Inspector Abul Kalam Azad, who had accompanied Hussain, said the police team left Dhekiajuli at around 11:30 pm on Monday in three vehicles and three motorcycles. After reaching an Army camp at Batasipur, about 40 kms from Dhekiajuli, they marched on foot to Hangkhraiguri village, where the informer led them to a house where an alleged NDFB(S) cadre was lying with bullet injuries in his legs.
“We cordoned off the area and conducted a search till daybreak, but found the place abandoned. We picked up the injured NDFB(S) cadre and returned on foot through another track to the road at Laidangi, from where we called for our vehicles. While we boarded our vehicles, the six constables whose motorcycles were left behind at the Army camp got onto a tractor,” said Azad, speaking to The Indian Express on the phone from Dhekiajuli.
After travelling about three kilometres, when they reached Mauriapur village, the convoy came under attack, first from one side and then from three sides. “My Maruti Gypsy was in the front, followed by a Tata Sumo and then the Addl SP’s Bolero. The tractor was slightly behind. They first fired at my vehicle, but we quickly jumped out, took cover in a ditch and returned fire. The police in the second vehicle also jumped out and took cover. The Bolero then became the target, with bullets hitting it from three sides. The Addl SP pulled out his revolver, but he was already hit. We continued to fire for about 20 minutes, till they stopped returning fire,” said Azad.
Hussain, a 2004-batch officer of the Assam Police Service, joined as Addl SP of Sonitpur district in June last year. “His wife had delivered a boy only 15 days ago, while his daughter is just three-and-a-half years old,” said Sonitpur Additional Deputy Commissioner Rajib Prakash Barua.
“He was definitely the best among our batchmates,” said Cachar Additional SP Dhruba Bora from Silchar. “He came from a poor family living in a remote village near Bihpuria in Lakhimpur district. He did his MSc (Zoology) from Dibrugarh University (first class) and went on to do his LLB from Guwahati,” he said.