May 15: The gunmen were 20 strong. The truck drivers were only 10, four drivers and six helpers.
As the gun-toting militants, suspected to be from the Jewel Gorlosa faction of the Dima Halam Daogah, took aim at the 10 men who were lined up, execution style, two of the drivers made a run for it. They were caught and shot from close range.
The place: Krumgminglangsu in the North Cachar Hills, nearly 270km from Guwahati. Time: 6.45am.
Ten minutes before the massacre, northeast of Krumgminglangsu, another group of militants, again suspected to be from the DHDs Gorlosa faction, sprayed bullets on a special patrol train consisting of the diesel locomotive and two coaches between Mupa and Kalachand stations. The locomotive driver, N.N. Bora, died on the spot.
The place: Nearly 55km south of Lumding railway junction in the North Cachar Hills district. Time: 6.35 am.
The NFR evacuated its employees and their families residing in locations between Lumding and Badarpur stations in two special trains and suspended services between these two stations.
Villagers in Krumgminglangsu said the DHD (J) team brought five cement-laden trucks of Vinay Cement Ltd on their way from the Umrangsu-based factory towards Lanka to the neighbouring Karbi-inhabited hamlet and executed the truckers. All the five vehicles were later torched.
Umrangsu police said four of the 10 persons had been identified from their driving licences. They were Nurrutom Das, Sambhu Debnath, Baburam Singha and Shyam Kumar Singha. All of them were from neighbouring Lanka of Nagaon district.
As reported by a driver, the convoy had nine trucks. The five were stopped after two trucks ahead had passed. The militants then climbed in all the five and took them to the site of the incident, about a km away by a side road. The drivers of the two other trucks, which were trailing a little distance behind, fled after sensing trouble ahead, an Umrangsu police source said.
They were later rescued by the security forces from their hiding place in the nearby woods.
Sarthe Rongpi, one of the villagers in front of whose hut the militants had parked the five trucks, said the drivers and the others were brought out of their trucks, lined up and shot. Two of them started running towards our house but they were caught and shot again from close range, said Dhansing, Sarthes brother.
All the villagers of Krumgminglangsu fled as soon as they heard the gunshots. My daughter Ransina and my son Babu are missing since the incident, Sarthe Rangpi said.
It all happened so quickly. We heard people screaming. I watched the grisly scene from a crack on the door, Sarthe said. First we thought they were security forces going by their uniforms, but realised only after that they were not.
The two who tried to flee had come up to the fence of our house and clutched it violently and was almost bringing it down before they were caught and shot him.
The villagers are engaged in jhum cultivation and had moved into this area only about a year ago.
Several hours after the incident, the smell of burnt tyres and sense of fear hung heavily in the air as heavily armed BSF personnel milled around.
Another group of the jawans had fanned out in the jungle in search of the militants.
The light drizzle had taken the colour off the blood spilled at the site as dogs licked at it.
A similar horrifying tale was unfolding in the other part of the district. As the train emerged out of a tunnel near Mupa station, militants perched on a hilltop sprayed bullets on it. Driver Bora stopped the train immediately and reversed it inside the tunnel. But the militants climbed down and sprayed bullets on the driver and his three colleagues from point blank range.
It was the drivers prompt action in reversing the train back to the safety of the tunnel that saved the lives of several railway employees, an NFR spokesman said.
Three engineers, 20 engineering staff, a permanent way inspector and 10 personnel of the Railway Protection Special Force from Lumding station on the train which had a diesel locomotive and two coaches.
Boras assistant P.K. Deb, gangman Ramesh Thakuria and an RPSF constable were seriously injured. They were rushed to a nearby army camp for first aid and were later shifted to the railway hospital in Lumding. Divisional railway manager S.S. Narayan and other senior officers of the Lumding division rushed to the site by a special train.
In a violent reaction to the attack on the railway employees, about 400 railwaymen and their families went on the rampage at Lumding station today. They damaged the station office, the control office, the divisional railway managers office, the officers rest house and 10 railway vehicles.