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Hamren SP killed in ambush

- KPLT hand suspected; cop team was on counter-insurgency operation

Nagaon, June 6: Suspected militants gunned down Hamren superintendent of police Nitya Nanda Goswami and his proximate security officer Ratul Nunisa during an encounter at Rongfu along the Assam-Meghalaya border in Karbi Anglong district of Assam last night.

A release issued by the state home department said Goswami and his PSO Nunisa died fighting the Karbi People’s Liberation Tigers (KPLT) at Rongfu early this morning.

Rongfu, a stronghold of the KPLT, is 250km from Guwahati. Goswami is the third police officer to fall to militants in Assam.

The SP and 18 others, including additional superintendent of police, Bedanta Borkakaty, and Hamren police station officer-in-charge, Kamal Bora, had gone to the area on a counter-insurgency operation when they came under heavy fire from a large number of militants.

The police recovered the bodies of Goswami and Nunisa this morning from the encounter site. Goswami’s body reached Guwahati late this evening. The funeral will take place tomorrow.

Borkakaty told The Telegraph that the police team had broken up into three groups with seven in one and six each in the other two and fanned out in different directions. Goswami, Borkakaty and Bora were in charge of the three groups.

“Four policemen in Goswami’s group had to retreat in the face of heavy fire from the militants. We found the bodies of the SP and his security officer this morning when we went back there with reinforcements,” the ASP said.

“I received a text message from sir (Goswami) around 8pm, two hours after the operation started, saying his group was under attack. After that, we lost contact and it became difficult for us to trace them in the darkness. Two groups reached Hamren police station around 2am today followed by four of the SP’s team who apprised us about the ambush,” he added.

Hamren police, accompanied by other security forces, launched an immediate operation early this morning in search of the missing police officer and recovered his bullet-riddled body from the jungles in the Rongfu area. Nunisa’s body was found nearby.

Goswami, 56, was the third superintendent of police appointed for Hamren after it was declared a separate police district seven years back. He hailed from Jamugurihat in Sonitpur district and had settled at Beltola in Guwahati. His wife and son live in Delhi.

“Despite severe constraints in logistics and infrastructure, Goswami carried on his operations against militants in Hamren very courageously. He was behind a series of operations against the KPLT in the troubled subdivision for the past three years,” said a senior police official at Diphu, the district headquarters of Karbi Anglong.

Nunisa, 24, who was from Tumpreng under Baithalangsu police station, is survived by his parents and brother.

Additional director-general of police (law and order), A.P. Rout, visited Hamren today.

Union minister of state for home, K. Rijiju, is expected to arrive in Guwahati and meet chief minister Tarun Gogoi to take stock of the situation.

The KPLT, which wants an autonomous state, was formed on January 8, 2011, by some former militants of the Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF). The KLNLF, itself a breakaway group of the United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS), was formed in 2004.

The UPDS was formed in March 1999 following the merger of two insurgent groups — Karbi National Volunteers and Karbi People’s Front.