May 6: The National Investigation Agency today discussed the modalities of investigation into the recent violence in Bodoland Territorial Areas District with the Assam government as protests over the attacks continued in the state.
NIA additional director-general N.R. Wasan met Assam chief secretary Jitesh Khosla and director-general of police Khagen Sarma at the state secretariat for around 30 minutes this afternoon and discussed the modalities of taking over investigation of selected cases related to the violence in the BTAD.
Sources said Dispur, which has requested the NIA to probe the BTAD killings, has decided to hand over five cases related to the attacks at Balapara-I in Kokrajhar district and Narayanguri and Narsingbari in Baksa district last week. But before visiting the affected areas, the NIA will go through the FIRs registered by police, prepare a preliminary report and register a case. “The entire process will take around 15-20 days,” a source said.
The Barpeta district chief judicial magistrate’s court today granted three-day police remand of 14 people who were picked up in connection with Friday’s massacre at Khagrabari in Baksa district of lower Assam, reports our correspondent from Barpeta. All are personnel of the forest department in Manas National Park and are former poachers who had surrendered to join the forest protection force.
In a related development, the Assam Human Rights Commission today issued a notice to the state government, directing it to conduct an inquiry into the alleged involvement of some forest personnel in the BTAD killings and furnish the report within 45 days from the day of receipt of the notice.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi will visit the violence-affected areas in a chopper tomorrow morning. “He will spend an hour at Narayanguri and meet the affected families before leaving for Balapara where he will meet the affected people and officials. From Balapara, he will fly back to Guwahati in the afternoon,” a source said.
The affected people had wanted Gogoi to attend the janaja of those killed at Narayanguri on Sunday. He did not go because his presence would have disrupted security arrangements, as the administration would have got busy with his trip. He had assured local leaders of his visit once things “cooled” down.
Assam Pradesh Minority Morcha president Muminul Aowal, who had visited the violence-affected areas in Kokrajhar yesterday, today demanded seizure of all illegal weapons in the state immediately and a probe by a central agency into all the killings that have taken place during chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s tenure. (See Metro)
Quoting survivors, Aowal alleged that members of the Bodoland Peoples’ Front, an ally of the Congress in the state government, were allegedly involved in the attacks.
No fresh incident of violence was reported from the volatile belt for the fourth day today but protests against the violence that has claimed 33 lives since May 1 continued.
The 24-hour statewide strike observed by the Oboro Suraksha Samiti, Asom, today evoked mixed response in lower Assam districts. The impact of the strike was total in the minority-dominated areas and partial in the district headquarters of Nagaon and Morigaon.
Hundreds of strike supporters took out a peace rally at Haiborgaon in Nagaon district. They threw stones at the police team that rushed to the site after an altercation broke out between traders and the protesters, who tried to close shops in the area. Five persons were picked up for attacking police constable Pulin Saikia, who was seriously injured in the attack.
Protesters also threw stones at vehicles plying on National Highway 37 at Sonaibali in Samaguri in Nagaon district. In neighbouring Morigaon district, they blocked the highway between the district headquarters of Nagaon and Morigaon.
In Guwahati, over 3,000 supporters of the All Assam Minorities Students’ Union demonstrated in front of Raj Bhavan and submitted a memorandum to Assam governor J.B. Patnaik, demanding dissolution of the BTC and arrest of BPF leaders Hagrama Mohilary and Pramila Rani Brahma.
The Asom Sankhalaghu Unnayan Parishad staged a demonstration in front of the Dhubri deputy commissioner’s office. Its president Mohibul Haque said, “The BTC should also be dissolved and a BTAD Minority Autonomous Council constituted by separating non-Bodo villages from the BTAD.”
Members of the Dhubri Bar Association took out a silent protest rally seeking protection of minorities in the BTAD and arrest of culprits within 24 hours. Its president N.I. Choudhury said, “It is high time the government took drastic steps to check the rerun of such carnage.”
The 12-hour Hailakandi bandh, called by Sankhalaghu Suraksha Mancha, was called off because of promulgation of Section 144 in the district last night.
The Udalguri district committee of the All Bodo Students’ Union (Absu) staged a three-hour sit-in on the premises of Bishnu Rabha Kristi Sangha at Udalguri town to demand immediate restoration of peace in the BTAD. It welcomed the government’s decision on NIA probe and hoped that the investigation would be impartial.