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Attack on engineers

Guwahati, Dec. 7: Three executives of construction company Gammon India were critically wounded today in firing by militants in the troubled North Cachar Hills of Assam.

Militants suspected to be from the anti-talks Jewel Gorlosa faction of the Dima Halam Daogah attacked assistant engineer Ajay Banerjee, junior engineer Debdoot Sen and supervisor Manoj Bhuyan at Manigiripur, where their company is laying a stretch of road as part of the East-West Corridor.

Banerjee is from Bankura in West Bengal, Sen hails from Dhubri and Bhuyan is a resident of Dibrugarh.

Both the engineers took bullets on their stomachs, while Bhuyan suffered injuries on his hands and chest. A source at Maibong Civil Hospital, where they were first admitted, described Sen’s condition as “very critical”.

The trio was shifted to Lumding Railway Hospital a couple of hours later. They might be brought to Guwahati, 383 km from the district headquarters, tomorrow.

Additional superintendent of police N.C. Ghosh said from Haflong town that three assailants in fatigues barged into the Gammon India camp for executives at Manigiripur, less than a km from an Assam Rifles base, and opened fire on the employees.

Gammon India, which is building the Lumding-Maibong stretch of the East West Corridor, had received a note from the DHD (Jewel) group seeking 10 per cent of the project cost as “tax”. The company’s refusal to pay money is believed to be the reason for the attack.

Superintendent of police Bhakta Bahadur Chetry said last week that government employees have been receiving threats from the same militant outfit over telephone to pay up. “They (the rebels) have apparently modified their modus operandi by demanding money over the phone instead of issuing extortion notices. The demands range between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 3 lakh.”

The main DHD faction, headed by Dilip Nunisa, has a ceasefire agreement with Delhi and is awaiting an invitation to a dialogue with the government on its demand for an “autonomous state” for the Dimasa community.

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