Four days after a group of NDFB(S) rebels dragged a 16-year old high school girl from her house and shot her in the presence of dozens of panic-stricken villagers in Chirang district in western Assam, chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Sunday directed the police to launch a “massive manhunt” to nab the killers.
Though the militant faction had also released a video clipping to some local TV news channels on August 21 which not only showed Priya’s body lying on the ground, but also showed the leader of the armed group claiming responsibility of the crime, not a single member of the armed group has been apprehended till today.
The chief minister’s announcement came after the opposition parties, student groups and civil society organizations across the state held the Congress government responsible for the gruesome murder. Priya Basumatary, a Class X student of Runikhata Girls’ High School was gunned down by the rebels who accused her of being a police informer about 12 hours after a joint team of Army and Assam Police had eliminate five NDFB(S) militants in the same area.
While the girl was killed at around 4:30 PM on August 20 at village Dwimuguri, her bullet-riddled body lay in the open for nearly 24 hours until some villagers finally lifted it and shifted it to Salbari, an adjoining village having a road access to Kajalgaon, the district headquarter. Dwimuguri, where the incident occurred is located in a very remote area and only approachable on foot, official sources confirmed.
An official press note issued by the Assam Police on Sunday said that while an operation was launched by army on the night of August 20 itself, the body could not be located in the darkness and as the local villagers were unwilling to co-operate out of fear. Next day, even as another search party was sent out, some villagers had already recovered the body and brought it to Salbari, the Assam Police said.
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Meanwhile, chief minister Tarun Gogoi, while terming the incident as most heinous, today directed the Assam Police to launch a massive manhunt to nab the killers of Priya Basumatary. Gogoi also announced Rs 20 lakh as financial assistance to Priya’s family. The SP of Chirang has been asked to constitute a special team to pursue the case and apprehend the culprits.
Bravery award in Priya’s name
Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Sunday also announced that his government would institute a bravery award in the name of Priya Basumatary. Gogoi also said he would recommend the girl’s name for the national bravery award.
“Our government will perpetuate the hallowed memory of the little brave girl who defied the dictates of the killers. Her valour and sacrifice will continue to inspire and motivate the young generation for years to come,” an official statement quoting Gogoi said here today.
Opposition parties and other groups however came down heavily on Gogoi. “It is ridiculous that a chief minister who cannot ensure security of the citizens despite having the army at its disposal, is talking about an award in the memory of an innocent schoolgirl whose body kept lying in the open for more than 24 hours,” said veteran Bodo People’s Front (BPF) legislator and former minister Pramila Rani Brahma.
The AGP on the other hand filed a case with the Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) apart from drawing attention of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). “It is the most gruesome incident that has occurred in insurgency-affected Assam in the past three decades. But it is surprising why the rights’ bodies like NCPCR and NHRC have not uttered a word,” said AGP president Atul Bora. (ends)