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Karbi group vows revenge in a week
- Gogoi tours strife zone as toll rises to 34

Nagaon, March 25: Blood-soaked Karbi Anglong bristled with anger and tension as the United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) today vowed to “wipe out Kuki militants” from the district to avenge the massacre of 34 Karbi tribesmen by the Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA).

The warning by the anti-talks faction of the UPDS, issued through a faxed message, came within hours of chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s visit to Diphu to take stock of the situation in the district.

The UPDS said its armed cadre would “teach the Kuki militants a good lesson” within a week.

The militant group described the KRA members as outsiders who have migrated to the district to create trouble.

Accompanied by several of his ministers, the chief minister reached Diphu amid a 10-hour Karbi Anglong bandh called by the Holiram Terang faction of the Autonomous State Demand Committee in protest against the killings.

Gogoi, who reached the strife zone in a helicopter, did not have a smooth landing at the Assam Rifles training camp in Diphu town.

But he wasted no time in touring the troubled areas of the district’s Bokajan subdivision and met the inmates of the newly-established relief camps there. At least 1,800 Karbi villagers have taken shelter in the two camps since the attacks.

The chief minister later reviewed the situation with officials of the district administration.

Home minister Rockybul Hussain and inspector-general of police (law and order) S.P. Kakati had visited the violence-scarred areas yesterday.

The Karbi Students and Youths’ Forum, a joint forum of the main student and youth organisations of Karbi Anglong and the adjoining North Cachar Hills submitted a memorandum to the chief minister, seeking steps to protect the indigenous people’s “right to live”.

The forum accused the Diphu administration and the Assembly team that visited the district on December 27 of pushing people into a death trap by convincing them to return to their homes from the relief camps set up earlier.

Security was beefed up in Karbi Anglong today to prevent Karbi retaliatory strikes. The toll in yesterday’s attacks rose to 34 with one of those injured at Uden Tisso succumbing to injuries at Diphu Civil Hospital. Of the seven villagers still in hospital, the condition of three is stated to be critical.

Bokajan sub-divisional police officer Golok Barua said the hilly terrain and communication problems were hampering the operation in search of the militants involved in the carnage.

“The problem, even for the army, is mainly topographical. Army operations in collaboration with the police and the CRPF have been launched in and around the Singhasan Hills, from where the KRA militants came down yesterday. All the routes to and from the hills have been sealed,” he said.

The CPI (M-) blamed the Centre and the state government for the killings in Karbi Anglong and called for countrywide protests tomorrow.

A release issued by the Delhi office of the party said the attacks by the KRA “must be condemned in the strongest possible terms”.

The state unit of the BJP said it would organise a fact-finding mission to the strife zone.

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