| An injured civilian being brought to Gauhati Medical College Hospital. Picture by UB Photos
Guwahati, Dec. 1: Nine persons, including a major and a sepoy, were killed today in bizarre circumstances at a village near Hajo in Kamrup district of Assam.
The mayhem was sparked by a mob that mistook a group of seven army personnel in civvies for a group of extortionists. Hajo police said the mob attacked the soldiers, all from the Assam Regiment, when they entered a teacher’s house in Athiyabari to enquire about an Ulfa militant.
The mob killed two members of the army team and their civilian driver with sharp weapons, prompting the remaining personnel to open fire on the attackers. Six villagers were killed and seven more seriously injured in the firing.
The slain armymen were Maj. R.A.S. Thaba and sepoy Debojit Deuri. The villagers killed in retaliatory action by the army have been identified as Farmood Ali, Mahim Ali, Mohd. Ali Akbar, Masser Ali, Mahnoor Ali and Tafid Ali. The injured are undergoing treatment at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital.
Villagers claimed that a surrendered militant had led the army team to Athiyabari. He allegedly misinformed the Assam Regiment team that a militant of the outlawed Ulfa was hiding in the house of local schoolteacher Tajimuddin Ahmed.
Both the army and the police said the person who had guided the Assam Regiment team to the village was a man of doubtful integrity. However, they declined to provide more information about him.
Inspector-general of police (special branch) Khagen Sharma told The Telegraph that the army personnel were “misled” into believing that Tajimuddin Ahmed was sheltering an Ulfa militant. He said the informer was absconding.
Villagers said the surrendered Ulfa militant had recently served a notice on the Tajimuddin Ahmed, demanding Rs 50,000 from him. The notice was issued on an Ulfa letterhead.
Sharma said the armymen had gone to Athiyabari village in a Tata Sumo.
They entered Tajimuddin Ahmed’s house around 1.30 pm, little knowing that a mob would surround it from all sides and attack them.
The IGP said the villagers mistook the army personnel for “Ulfa boys” as they had been informed by the schoolteacher about the extortion notice ostensibly served on him by the outfit.
A villager accompanying one of the injured to Gauhati Medical College and Hospital said the surrendered rebel had told the teacher that he would get him arrested if he did not inform the police or the army about the Ulfa’s notice.
“He later struck a deal with the schoolteacher, saying he would hush up the matter if the teacher paid him Rs 10,000. He was supposed to collect the money yesterday,” the villager claimed.