Assam attacks: IB, police took two hours to decipher key call because it was in ‘Bodo’

Since the intercept did not mention any specific place or time, there was little even the state police could do.

Written by Vijaita Singh | New Delhi | Updated: December 28, 2014 8:41 am
IB, Assam Police, Bodo militants, Bodo language Tribals burn tires to block a national highway during a twelve-hour general strike in Biswanath Chariali in Indian northeastern state of Assam Friday Dec. 26, 2014. (Source: PTI)

It took two hours for the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Assam Police to decipher a “telephone intercept” of a senior functionary of the NDFB(S), which carried out synchronised attacks on Adivasis, as it was in local “Bodo language”.

By the time the phone intercept was decoded, agencies had already lost two precious hours to mobilise the forces, and the group launched an attack in which at least 75 people were killed.

Officials said that in the intercept, the group’s deputy leader Bidai is heard giving directions to his men to carry out attacks on December 23. He also faces resistance from cadres who sound worried about the retaliation from state forces that would follow.

“On December 23, at 12.40 pm, intelligence agencies intercepted a phone call where Bidai is giving out directions to his men to attack the tribals. Since it was in Bodo language, it took them two hours to decipher it. By the time they understood the context, it was already 2.40 pm.

They sent out an alert to mobilise the forces. Since the intercept did not mention any specific place or time, there was little even the state police could do. The group struck at 5 pm in batches in four districts of Assam and carried out the killings,” said a senior Home Ministry official.

Meanwhile on Friday, the government extended the ban imposed on NDFB(S) by five more years. The ban is applicable to all factions of NDFB, sources said.

The notification declaring the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) as an outlawed organisation under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for five years was issued by the Home Ministry on December 22. It later approached a tribunal set up by the Delhi High Court for ratification of its order.

Army Chief Dalbir Singh, who met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, said, “We are definitely going to intensify our operations in Assam. The meeting was to review the security situation in Assam.”

Sources said the Home Minister is believed to have discussed the issue of coordinated operations with Armies of Bhutan and Myanmar against the NDFB, which has bases in the two neighbouring countries.

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