The police vehicle at Malatijhora in Kokrajhar on Thursday. Telegraph picture
Kokrajhar/Dhubri, Sept. 26: A police officer and his driver were killed and a constable was injured when suspected NDFB militants ambushed their vehicle in Kokrajhar district today.
While in-charge of Rupshi police outpost Narayan Chandra Barman, 59, and his driver Madan Roy, 27, died, constable Sajahan Miya was injured in the attack, which took place at a spot between Mainaguri and Malatijhora under Kazigaon police station in Kokrajhar’s Parbhatjhora subdivision. Malatijhora is 25km from Dhubri and 45km from Kokrajhar. It is an NDFB stronghold.
Sources said Barman and his team, comprising three more constables — Bikram Brahma, Chandan Haloi and Nabul Barua, who escaped unhurt — were on their way to Malatijhora in a police van to collect information on NDFB Ranjan Daimary faction cadres at the time of the attack.
Constable Sajahan Miya, who received a bullet injury in the leg, told The Telegraph at Rupnath Brahma civil hospital in Kokrajhar that they were in the area to collect and verify the names of cadres of NDFB Ranjan Daimary faction to be submitted ahead of their transfer to designated camps.
He said they had already visited some villages in the area and were returning from Malatijhora when the incident took place. The village headman of Malatijhora was also in the vehicle but escaped without injury.
Sajahan said the militants fired indiscriminately from either side of the road. Barman was sitting in the front with the driver and bullets hit both of them. “I was sitting in the middle of the van along with two others while two more were on the back seat. As the driver and in-charge were hit, we ducked and fired in retaliation. The militants fled when we started firing.”
While senior police officers have rushed from Kokrajhar and are monitoring combing operations, police sources said the heightened activity of NDFB (Songbijit) could be traced to developments involving other NDFB groups. “While the process is on to start talks with the Ranjan Daimary group, talks are on with other groups on the statehood issue. The Songbijit faction feels it will become irrelevant if the steps succeed. It also wants to create its own space, as other groups are in truce,” a source said.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who returned from New Delhi this afternoon, was briefed about the incident in the evening. Though the attack took place around 11.30am, details remained sketchy till evening. Kokrajhar is 220km from Guwahati.
Assam director-general of police J.N. Choudhury told The Telegraph that checking the activities of the Songbijit group was a “priority” now.
“This group has ordered a lot of arms and now needs funds to pay the suppliers. It is bereft of ideology and we are dealing with a heavily armed group of dacoits. We lost two persons in today’s attack, while one was injured,” Choudhury said in reaction to the development.
The Songbijit group was also involved in abduction of NHPC official Anil Kumar Agarwal fom Sonitpur district on Saturday. Dispur is now under pressure to secure his release.