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KLO ‘commander’ killed in encounter

- Cadre had Rs 3-lakh bounty on head

Kokrajhar, Feb. 2: A self-styled “commander” of Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), Brindaban Rajbongshi alias Mukut Ray, 22, with a Rs 3-lakh bounty on his head, was killed in an encounter with security forces last night on Nadangiri hill in Salakati of Kokrajhar district.

Following specific information about the movement of some KLO cadres in the area, police and army launched a joint operation last night in Nadangiri hill.

The militants on spotting the security forces fired on them and Rajbongshi was killed in retaliatory fire around 9.45 last night.

The police said two other KLO cadres, including Samar Roy alias Rambo, escaped in the darkness.

The police said Rajbongshi was involved in several cases of abduction and extortion, among others.

He was involved in the killing of small trader Sudhangsu Sarkar on January 21 last year at Sakti Ashram Baubazar under Fakiragram police station in the district.

Rajbongshi, a resident of Mainatoli village in Fakiragram area of Assam, was also allegedly involved in the killing of Godapani Pathak, an engineer of the state agriculture department of Assam, around two years back.

The “commander” had Rs 3 lakh reward on his head, the police said.

“There was information that he was assigned with the task to extort money from businessmen of Dhubri and adjoining areas of Alipurduar and Cooch Behar in Bengal. A pistol, live ammunitions, grenades, some documents, two SIM cards and currency notes of Myanmar were found on him,” an intelligence official said.

“His activities were in Assam and he was not involved in any crime by the KLO in north Bengal,” the official said.

Rajbongshi’s father Kamalakanta today identified his body. He said his son had gone to Kerala to look for work two years back and he had no contact with him since then.

He is among the seven KLO cadres on whom Assam police had announced a reward of Rs 3 lakh each. The other cadres on the list are Kaka alias Jibon Singh, Dhananjoy alias Dayal, Samar Barman, Hiranya Ray and Swapon Roy.

The police said they have launched a search operation to apprehend the escaped militants.

The KLO list also includes the outfit’s four top leaders — “commander-in-chief” Nityananda Sarkar alias Shyam Ray, general secretary Keshab Barman, assistant organising secretary Lal Chand Deka and cultural secretary Digambar Rai alias Jibon Koch — with rewards of Rs 5 lakh each on their heads.

The police had announced cash rewards to the tune of Rs 62 lakh for those who can provide information on 11 KLO militants and seven cadres of the Songbijit faction of the NDFB.

Sources said the police have stepped up operations against KLO after their Bengal counterparts sought help to contain subversive activities of the outfit following a blast in Jalpaiguri in December last year, which had killed six persons.

The police along with army and central paramilitary forces have launched a joint operation against NDFB (S) and KLO in the BTAD, comprising Kokrajhar, Chirang, Udalguri and Baksa districts, after several incidents of extortion, abduction and killings were reported in the Bodo belt in the past few months.

The police on January 20 had announced cash rewards to the tune of Rs 95 lakh for 15 cadres of the NDFB faction, including Rs 10 lakh each for information on the “commander-in-chief” Songbijit, general secretary B. Saoraigwra, military and publicity secretary Rajib Champramary and outfit spokesperson Ranjit Basumatary alias B.R. Ferenga.