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Judicial probe into carnage

- Opposition parties say NIA inquiry not enough, Gogoi to visit BTAD tomorrow

Guwahati, May 5: Dispur today said it would set up a judicial inquiry over and above its move to get the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the violence in the Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD).

The move comes after several organisations pointed out that the NIA would only probe the terror angle and not the political one. Opposition parties like the AIUDF, BJP and the AGP demanded an impartial probe and sought one by the CBI.

“Instituting the judicial inquiry will help unravel the conspiracy angle behind the incidents and bring the culprits to book. The government, which has moved the NIA to probe the incidents, will leave no stone unturned to unearth the truth,” Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi said, adding that the inquiry would be conducted by a retired judge.

At least 32 people have died and 13 have been reported missing in the BTAD since Thursday. The body of an eight-year-old, killed in the violence at Nonk Khagrabari in Baksa district, was recovered from the bank of the Beki at Raipurghat under Howly police station in the district today.

Gogoi, who is likely to visit the BTAD on Wednesday, told a delegation of the Sanmilito Jonogosthiyo Oikyo Moncho this evening that he had requested the Centre not to withdraw paramilitary forces from the state in order to instil confidence among people and to bring back peace and normalcy.

With Gogoi set to visit the affected villages, sources said they see a possibility of some announcement to calm frayed nerves among the minority community.

A senior officer of the NIA arrived here today to finalise the modalities of taking over the investigation. Another director-general-level officer of the agency will visit the state capital tomorrow.

However, AIUDF general secretary Aminul Islam said the NIA would only investigate if any militants were behind the killings and would not probe political links. “Our party wants an impartial inquiry,” he told reporters here today.

The AIUDF and even Congress leaders have alleged the involvement of the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), the ally of the Congress in the government. They have demanded dismissal of the BPF-led Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), which governs the BTAD, and the arrest of BPF legislator Pramila Rani Brahma.

“The Assam government has to share the blame for the violence, which we believe was prompted by the statements of two BPF leaders. The BTAD attacks were pre-planned as Chandan Brahma and Pramila Rani Brahma had made statements that incited violence,” Islam said.

The BJP claimed the NIA would not be impartial. The party’s national vice-president Bijoya Chakravarty told reporters that the government would “give instructions” to the NIA on how to probe the incident. “Therefore, we demand a judicial inquiry,” she said, hours before Gogoi’s announcement.

The AGP also demanded a judicial inquiry, saying the NIA only deals with terrorism-related incidents.

The NIA had earlier probed the NC Hills scam case, its first case after being founded, and chargesheeted both militants and politicians in the case.

Dispur had asked the CBI to probe the 2012 riots in Kokrajhar district. The CBI had arrested 114 accu- sed and registered seven cases.

On why Dispur had engaged the NIA, a government official said it specialised in probing terror cases and could go anywhere in that connection.

The government also reviewed arrangements to provide a month’s relief to inmates of Narayanguri camp in Baksa district. Specific arrangements have been made to provide baby food, water, sanitation, health facilities, soap and vegetables. A team of doctors and paramedics has been rushed to the camp, where nearly 500 people of Nonk Kagrabari are taking shelter.

Senior minister Bhumidhar Barman, who visited Narayanguri today, faced the wrath of the people who first gheraoed him and then tried to drive him away. They allowed him to hold a meeting after he assured them that steps would be taken against the culprits and illegal arms would be seized. Agriculture minister Nilamani Sen Deka had also been gheraoed when he visited the place on Sunday.

The Kokrajhar district administration organised a peace meeting, involving all parties and organisations, and stressed the need to undertake confidence-building measures in the affected areas.

Representatives of the All Bodo Students’ Union, All Bodo Minority Students’ Union, All Koch Rajbongshi Students’ Union, All Bodo Women’s Welfare Federation, Bodoland People’s Progressive Front, Bodoland People’s Front, the Congress and several NGOs participated in the meeting.


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