Jorhat, Oct. 2: Police suspect the involvement of Maoists in the raid and looting of a gun and ammunition at a police guest house in Assam’s Tinsukia district last night.
A three-member group raided the R.K. Singh Memorial police guest house at Borguri on the outskirts of Tinsukia town near the office campus of the superintendent of police and escaped with an INSAS rifle and 20 rounds of ammunition after attacking the sentry, Bipul Sonowal.
Sources said the group attacked Sonowal, who was guarding the gate, with a machete on his head and shoulders around 11pm. As the guard fell, the attackers snatched his weapon and ammunition, conducted a reconnaissance of the guest house and fled.
Police sources said two important Maoist cadres, Vivek Moran and Hemanta Neog, were being questioned for the past few days at the guest house, which is used as an interrogation centre for hardcore militants and hardened criminals. But the two listed cadres, who had been picked up recently, were not there last night as they had been shifted to another location during the day. The raid has baffled the police, as the guest house is located in a high-security area with offices of the superintendent of police, the deputy commissioner, the judicial courts campus and magistrate colony located in the vicinity.
Tinsukia superintendent of police P.P. Singh told The Telegraph that investigations were on. The police are examining the footage of CCTV cameras installed at the guest house to identify the three who raided the place. “We are looking into all the angles and Maoist or Ulfa’s hand cannot be ruled out,” he said.
The police have identified about 200 villages in Tinsukia district, with more than half of them located in Sadiya subdivision on the north bank of the Brahmaputra, where Maoists are said to be gaining a foothold. The district shares a huge boundary with Arunachal Pradesh. The area is marked by hills and dense forests, which suits insurgent activities. Ulfa was active in the area earlier and now Maoists are trying to set up base there.
In the past two years, there have been several incidents of arms snatching from police and forest guards in Tinsukia and adjoining Dibrugarh districts by suspected Maoist cadres. The attack on police stations and snatching of arms has had the trademark style of Maoists attacking security forces in states affected by Left-wing extremism in the country.
In 2010 and 2011, two guns were snatched by suspected Maoists from forest guards at Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, spread over Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts, and one from a policeman posted at Ambikapur in Sadiya subdivision, along the inter-state boundary.
Sources said of the three AK-series rifles recovered from four Maoist cadres killed during an encounter in May 2012 in Sadiya, two were found to have been snatched from a police picket at Rajgarh in Dibrugarh in 2011.
Last month, the police arrested two Maoists, Sanjit Gogoi and Tatal Neog, from Kakopathar in Tinsukia and recovered a 9mm pistol with four rounds of ammunition from the duo, who had come to threaten a small tea grower. They were demanding Rs 5 lakh from the planter.