Baksa/Kokrajhar, May 7: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today said his government would break the alliance with the Bodoland People’s Front in “five minutes” if its involvement in the BTAD killings is proved.
Gogoi today visited two relief camps — Balapara in Kokrajhar district and Narayanguri in Baksa district, which are 250km and 115km from Guwahati respectively.
After hearing first-hand accounts of survivors, Gogoi expressed profound grief and described the crimes as “inhuman”.
At Narayanguri where 62 families are putting up at a relief camp, Gogoi was greeted with slogans like “We do not want BTC” and “Arrest Hagrama Mohilary”.
Officially, the death toll in the mayhem rose to 39 this evening and altogether 26 people have been arrested in connection with the attacks. The victims have claimed that BPF members were involved in the carnage.
“Anyone involved in the gruesome crime will not be spared,” Gogoi told members of the bereaved families while assuring that permanent police pickets would be set up in vulnerable areas, “proper justice” would be meted out to the affected and all possible steps would be taken to confiscate illegal arms.
He also promised that the government would assist the displaced people in returning home as early as possible and ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh paid to the next of the kin of the deceased over and above the Rs 3 lakh compensation to be paid by the Centre.
“The government will also take responsibility of the orphaned children by discussing the matter with authorities of SOS Children’s Village. We will also provide shelter to those who have lost their homes,” Gogoi said.
At Narayanguri, state minister Siddique Ahmed ruled out any role of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in the unrest. “The violence has no links with Modi. It was committed by armed groups,” he said. The Congress had blamed Modi and the BJP for the violence on Sunday.
From Narayanguri, Gogoi went to Balapara.
He first went to the house of Batsu Sheikh, who lost his wife, Meherban Bibi, in the attack and whose son, Tajul Islam, was injured.
Gogoi also visited the residence of Sajid Ali — who lost three members of his family, including his mother, Sayaban Bewa, wife Sonaban Bibi and two-year-old daughter Sauna Khatun — in the carnage. Ali said the chief minister asked him about the incident and what he could do to help.
“I have told him that I want to start my life afresh and need help to do so. He said he would look into it. I am satisfied with his assurance,” Ali said, adding that he did not want to stay back in the village.
Gogoi received memoranda from different organisations at both the places.
Panchayat and rural development minister Rakibul Hussain, food and civil supplies minister Nazrul Islam, agriculture minister Nilamani Sen Deka, border areas development minister Siddique Ahmed, parliamentary secretary Sukur Ali and former minister Wazed Ali Choudhury were also present.
Owing to intensive search operations by NDRF and SDRF personnel, five more bodies were recovered from the Beki river in Baksa district today.
“Efforts are on to trace the remaining 10 missing people,” a source said.
In Guwahati, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Assam police held a high-level meeting to chalk out a co-ordinated strategy to probe the BTAD killings. Although the NIA is yet to formally register a case in this connection, the Assam government has referred five cases. The NIA may club two cases as both are related to the same incident. It will, in all probability, take three cases once formalities are completed.
A three-member NIA team — comprising additional director-general N.R. Wasan, inspector-general G.P. Singh and superintendent of police Debajit Hazarika — attended today’s meeting, which was held at Assam police headquarters. From the Assam police, DGP Khagen Sarma and additional DGP (CID) Mukesh Sahay were among those present.
Police suspect the involvement of the Songbijit faction of the NDFB in the killings. “The support required by the NIA, including logistics and manpower, to carry out the investigation were discussed in the meeting,” a police official said. Wasan, who returned to New Delhi this afternoon, will submit a preliminary report about the violence after which the NIA will formally take up the investigation.
The NIA team also met Gogoi before leaving
A home department source said curfew was relaxed for the entire day in Baksa, Kokrajhar and Chirang districts and 36 fixed police pickets had been set up in affected areas of Baksa and Kokrajhar districts.
After Gogoi’s departure around 12.30pm, AIUDF president Badruddin Ajmal, along with his brother Sirajuddin, visited Narayanguri. Ajmal asked the affected people to maintain peace and harmony.
After meeting UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Assam health and education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said security should be tightened in the BTAD following reports that violence may break out after the Lok Sabha poll results are declared on May 16.
“We should remember that the election in Kokrajhar was fought on a different issue. We should be prepared to tackle any situation post the results,” Sarma said, hinting at the statehood issue, which has divided the Bodos and non-Bodos. “ We arrest people but they get out on bail. As such people have no fear about killing anyone,” he said.
The government has put the administration in every district on alert and asked them to deal firmly with trouble-mongers.