Tezpur/Guwahati, Jan. 29: At least 10 people were killed and eight injured when armed men from Arunachal Pradesh allegedly fired on a group of people from Assam trying to prevent them from encroaching land at Behali reserve forest in Sonitpur district this evening.
According to Assam parliamentary secretary (home) Atuwa Munda, the incident took place around 5.30pm today.
According to preliminary reports, 10 people were killed and eight injured in a firing by the mob from Arunachal Pradesh which was trying to encroach on Assam’s territory at Chauldhua under Borgang police station in Sonitpur district, bordering Arunachal’s Papum Pare district. Chauldhua is about 135km from Tezpur, Munda said.
He added that those involved in the gruesome act would not be spared. “We will do whatever is necessary for the protection of our land and people,” Munda asserted.
Assam has a running boundary dispute with Arunachal Pradesh, which became a full-fledged state on February 20, 1987.
State general secretary of the CPI (M-L), Bibek Das, told The Telegraph over phone from Rampur forest gate near the incident site that the injured persons had been hospitalised.
Das said a CPI (M-L) team was camping at the border for the last two months to prevent encroachment of Assam’s land by people from Arunachal Pradesh. .
According to him, seven bodies were still lying at the spot as these could not be retrieved because of inadequate number of security personnel and bad road conditions.
He claimed that no police team had reached the spot even three hours after the incident and finally the CPI (M-L) members, with the help of forest guards, shifted the injured persons.
Indraswar Das, a CPI (M-L) member who sustained bullet injuries in his legs, said several rounds were fired by the mob from Arunachal Pradesh at their camp at Chauldhua. Das has been admitted to Borgang Catholic Hospital.
Chauldhua is about 4km from Thandapani forest camp.
Reports from both states suggest the fight between the groups from Assamand Arunachal over forest land in Assam resulted in the bloodbath.
Arunachal Pradesh chief secretary H. Paliwal told The Telegraph that there were reports of clashes relating to border dispute and three persons were injured. “We have no confirmed reports about any casualty. The area is deep inside a jungle.”
Behali MLA Pallav Lochan Das, while condemning the alleged attack from the Arunachal side, told The Telegraph tonight that the state government should take steps, either through dialogue or force, to clear the “100 per cent forest area from encroachment by people from either state”.
After a flare-up in the same area early this month, both states had agreed to maintain status quo till the Supreme Court delivered its verdict on the decade-old inter-state boundary issue.
Assam’s Udalguri, Baksa, Sonitpur, Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Sivasagar, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts share the border with Arunachal Pradesh.
Some of the deceased have been identified as Prabhat Subba, Ganesh Newar, Bhanu Subba, Khamrel Subba, Himan Subba, Maheshwar Barman and Rupchandra Munda.
Chauldhua is about 135km from Tezpur, which is 180km from Guwahati.
Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who is in Delhi to finalise candidates from the state for the Lok Sabha elections, directed the director-general of police, ADGP (law and order), chief secretary and Sonitpur SP to constantly monitor the situation an d take all possible steps to contain it. Gogoi also holds the home portfolio. Dispur came in for flak from several quarters over the situation.