When Sunil Das reached the spot on the village road where five people had been sprayed with bullets on Thursday evening, his younger brother, Subal, 60, was still alive.
“Rontu (his son) and I were working on the field when we were told that five people had been shot and Subal was still alive. By that time 15 minutes had probably passed. We ran towards the spot and found that the other four had collapsed. Subal was alive but in a delirium – he had taken four bullets on the legs and abdomen,” Sunil said.
“He kept saying, ‘Dada medical niye cholo’ (brother, take me to hospital) as he grasped for breath. He asked for water again and again,” Sunil said.
As Sunil tried to figure out the best way to take his brother to a nearby hospital, son Rontu called a friend in a neighbouring village who had a Maruti Alto car. “Even as the car started off from there (they expected it to reach in 10-15 minutes), we carried uncle’s body in a handcart and started running, hoping to meet the approaching car somewhere midway. We had barely moved for a few minutes when we realised he was no more,” Rontu, 31, also a farmer, said.
Das’s family, which lives farthest from the spot where the five were shot, allegedly by gunmen of ULFA (Independent) – the outfit has denied any responsibility – was the last to learn about the killing. Initially, family members said, they had taken the gunshots to be crackers burnt in anticipation for Diwali.
Sunil was head of the village defence party (VDP) of Bisonimukh village for 20 years – he had retired five years ago.
“Under Gaon Panchayat, known as Adhoimuria, there are at least six villages and they house Assamese, Nepalis, Adivasis and Bengalis – never have we had any incident of strife between communities,” Sunil said.
Subal Namasudra, elder brother of Dhananjay, the only survivor from Thursday night’s shooting, also said, “Suddenly, the situation seems to be so bad. There has never been any enmity with people from other linguistic communities but this attack seems to be targeted at Bengalis,” he said.