Derailed compartments of the Garib Rath in Gossaigaon of Kokrajhar district. Picture by Anirban Choudhury
Gossaigaon, July 8: The anti-talks faction of the National Democratic Front of Boroland today triggered a powerful blast that flung the locomotive and two coaches of the Calcutta-bound Garib Rath Express from the tracks, killing a six-year-old boy and injuring 23 others at Gossaigaon in Kokrajhar district.
The outfit this evening said they could not be stopped despite the tall claims of the government.
The safety and security to the people is only in words. Police and security force got the information before and warned through the media about the triggering of the blast but could not finally detect the location. NDFB claims responsibility for the serial blasts on the railway track and the Garib Rath Express fell in the trap in Kokrajhar district. Such type of incidents will become the order of the day, so the NDFB asks and appeals to all the inhabitants of South East Himalayan Region (so called Northeast India) not to undertake journey by train or other government vehicles otherwise we will not responsible for the consequences, a statement issued by the outfit said.
The NDFB statement said the attack was in response to the shabby treatment meted out to its leader Ranjan Daimary and the killing of innocent Bodo youths by the security forces.
This, the statement said, had led to the outfit losing its patience and forcing it into triggering the blast. It also said since its cadres were ready to die for Bodoland, the government should take the initiative to resolve the genuine demands of the outfit submitted to the Centre in May 2008.
Security forces described the action as NDFBs way of showing it existed and couldnt be trifled with even if its leader, Daimary, was in jail.
The blast, around 2.30am, came within hours of another explosion on railway tracks in Sonitpur district, even as security was stepped up to prevent such attacks that the police feared following intelligence inputs.
The Northeast Frontier Railway had last evening decided to cancel and divert several trains from today following the alert, which had also warned of the outfit planning to set off blasts in minority-inhabited pockets and crowded places in the BTAD districts.
Garib Rath, that chugged out of Guwahati station around 10.30 last night, an hour and a half behind schedule, with 600 passengers, was nearing Gossaigaon station around 2.30am when the blast occurred.
I saw the thick smoke in the beam of the engine light and as the train was moving fast, there was little time to react. Suddenly there was a loud bang and we were off the tracks and down the embankment, said loco pilot Ashim Kumar Som from his hospital bed in Alipurduar, where the injured were rushed to.
The blast also derailed four other coaches and caused extensive damage to the tracks.
The body of Durlav Sethia, a Class 1 student of Maharishi Vidya Mandir, who was killed in the blast, was brought to Guwahati by road.
According to an NFR source, an Alipurduar-bound passenger train had crossed the spot less than an hour before the blast.
Kokrajhar superintendent of police P.K. Dutta said RDX was suspected to have been used in the explosion.
Going by the impact, we think about 20kg RDX was used. A similar amount of RDX was found in the unexploded bomb, Dutta said. Both the IEDs were kept in aluminium containers.
Security forces subsequently recovered another improvised explosive device a little distance away and defused it. They also recovered an IED planted in a pressure cooker at Rakshasmari in Sonitpur district bordering Udalguri district.
A powerful IED planted on the railway track over Panchnoi bridge under Mazbat police station bordering Udalguri-Sonitpur district was also recovered by jawans of 3rd Assam Rifles and Mazbat police today around 5.30am.
They (NDFB) are making their presence felt after their leader (Daimary) was arrested... it is a pressure tactic, the source said.
According to sources in the state home department, the NDFB was likely to carry out more such attacks, particularly targeting the railway as that would attract more attention.
Interrogation of the NDFB chief revealed that this faction of the outfit has about 160 to 170 members. But herein lies the problem: they operate in small groups thereby rendering any operation by the army under the Unified Command practically useless.
We had nearly broken the back of the outfit along with that of Ulfas during the Bhutan operations, but suddenly the state government decides to take it upon itself to enter into a ceasefire leaving a chunk of the NDFB still free and armed. And the fact is that when it comes to Ulfa or NDFB or DHD, there is little difference in pro-talks and anti-talks factions. They are all one, which is why, unlike the NSCN (I-M) and the NSCN (K) there is no fratricidal war between these factions, a source said.
And now comes this round of competitive nationalism.
Some Assamese have made heroes out of the likes of Arabinda Rajkhowa and his men while the Bodos have gone ahead and made Daimary a hero, garlanding him at every possible opportunity, a security force official said.
These people have been brought to Guwahati and are now lodged in jails here and thanks to their clout locally, it has only become easier for them to run their operations directly from the state capital.
Put them in jails in Bastar or even in Tihar and you will see that half their operations will end, the source said.