Jorhat, Feb. 16: Two persons were injured and two vehicles damaged as suspected Karbi People’s Liberation Tiger (KPLT) militants opened fire on National Highway 37 near Kaziranga National Park last night.
The area falls under Kohora police outpost in Golaghat district neighbouring Karbi Anglong. The incident took place during an indefinite strike called by KPLT from February 13.
The injured have been identified as Jyoti Kr Deka, an employee of Doomdooma Municipality Board and Suresh Chetri, who worked as a helper on a truck. Deka received injuries on his leg while a bullet grazed Chetri’s forehead.
The Toyota Etios in which Deka was travelling and the truck with Chetri were also damaged in the firing. While Deka was on his way to Guwahati, the truck was coming to Jorhat from Guwahati.
The office in-charge of the outpost, J. Deka, said militants descended from the neighbouring Karbi Anglong hills around 8.30pm and opened fire from automatic weapons and lobbed grenades on vehicles plying on the highway. The group fired around 22 rounds.
“It is not known how many vehicles were hit by bullets as no vehicles, apart from the truck and the car, stopped to report about the incident,” another police official said.
The official said preliminary investigation suggests that KPLT were involved in the incident because bullets were fired from automatic weapons. “Although the area does not fall under Karbi Anglong, the outfit probably wanted to show its presence and terrorise people,” the official said. The militant group, he said, has been demanding money from several businessmen in the area. He said operations were on to apprehend the culprits involved in the incident. “We will also arrange night patrolling in the particular stretch of the highway near the national park,” he said.
This is the second incident on the highway near Kaziranga. A truck driver was killed and 11, including six Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) activists, were injured when suspected KPLT cadres opened fire on vehicles plying on the highway at Panbari in 2011. Four trucks and a Bolero were also damaged in the heavy firing.
AJYCP activists, including state vice-president Ranjit Changmai, were returning from Guwahati to Sivasagar in a Bolero, when the vehicle was sprayed with bullets fired from Panbari reserve forest.
Militants had also attacked an anti-poaching camp at Kaziranga in 2010 and snatched a rifle, a walkie-talkie and a searchlight from the forest guards.