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Blast arrest triggers protests in Assam

Kokrajhar, Jan. 18: The NDFB militants vented their anger over the arrest of Gopal Rabha, alias Jagadish, by blocking National Highway 37 and bringing traffic to a halt in the Bodo heartland this morning. They also torched many vehicles.

The “commander” of the outfit’s 3rd Battalion was arrested by Bengal police from a rented house near Down Town Hospital in Guwahati yesterday for his suspected involvement in two explosions in the state, including one on a passenger train on November 20.

Assam police said around 6.15 am today, two motorcycle-borne militants set a truck on fire, damaging it partially, at Rani Sunduri under Kajalgaon police station in Chirang district. Two persons were arrested in this connection.

In another incident, militants torched an autorickshaw near Patgaon under Serfanguri police station in Kokrajhar district.

Late last evening, two trucks bearing numberplates of Bengal were set on fire by unidentified people at Bhorjhar and Kadamthola Chowk under Barama police station in Baksa district. The police suspect that NDFB militants are behind the incidents in retaliation against the arrest of Rabha.

Terming the arrest of Rabha as illegal, the secretary-general of NDFB, B. Swmkhwr, alias Govindo Basumatary, said: “Rabha has no links with any blast. Therefore, we demand his unconditional release.”

Basumatary also threatened to carry on indefinite blockades from January 23, if Rabha is not released by then.

The Assam police were reportedly taken aback by the fact that the NDFB militant was allegedly involved in the blast on a train in the adjoining state even when a ceasefire was on.

“We are concerned because they can also be assisting Ulfa in its operations as the two outfits had worked together before,” a senior police official said. Assam police suspect that some NDFB militants could still be helping Ulfa and the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation.

The police also do not rule out the possibility of Ulfa using NDFB rebels for subversive activities in Guwahati and elsewhere in the state.

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