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Despite norm, buses didn’t have escorts

Assam killings: One more killed, toll reaches 8

Guwahati |
January 20, 2014 12:09:23 am

A little over a year ago, when I K Singbijit, the “chief” of the armed wing of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), caused a split in the outfit and declared himself “interim president” of his faction that came to be known as NDFB(S), security agencies did not think it would turn out to be as dangerous as the original NDFB when it was founded in 1986. Today, it not only has about 250 cadres — about 100 of whom are believed to be trained in sophisticated weapons and explosives — but also has the capability of striking terror as Assam has already witnessed in the past three days.

The NDFB(S) faction in fact has struck in as many as four places since Friday night when it first intercepted two buses and gunned down five Hindi-speaking persons in Kokrajhar. The toll till Sunday afternoon (the group generally strikes late in the evening) has already reached eight. Barber Bikam Sharma in Ambagaon village in Udalguri district was killed on Sunday. Grocer Gaur Kundu of Manglajhar village in Kokrajhar and shopkeeper Imran Ali of Panbari in Chirang district were killed Saturday.
Assam Home Secretary G D Tripathi has described the incidents as a calculated design of selectively targeting Hindi-speaking persons. “The NDFB has a history of targeting Hindi-speaking people. Every time they lose a cadre in the hands of security forces, they target innocent Hindi-speaking people,” he said.

When security forces stepped up operations in August 2010 and killed about 20 NDFB cadres and arrested 15, the outfit announced it would kill 20 “Indians” for every single of its cadres killed by forces. In November 2010 alone, the outfit killed at least 30 people — mostly Hindi-speaking — in Kokrajhar, Udalguri, Chirang, Baska and Sonitpur districts. It is not that the government had not anticipated a retaliation when three of its cadres were killed last week. The group turned violent particularly when Raja Basumatary, a self-styled “commander” was gunned down near Kachugaon in Kokrajhar Friday morning. The attack on buses the same night proved how dangerous the NDFB(S) faction could be. While night buses are required to run under armed escorts through Kokrajhar and Chirang districts, especially during any bandh, escorts were reportedly absent that night despite a bandh called by the KLO, another armed group operating in the area.

Assam Police have records that the NDFB(S) faction has about 100 sophisticated weapons in its armoury most of which it had inherited when Singbijit walked out of the NDFB headed by “founder chairman” Ranjan Daimary.

The latter, who is one of the prime accused in the serial blasts of October 2008 which had left over 100 dead, has joined the peace process after he was arrested and brought to Assam from Bangladesh in May 2010.

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