Nov. 18: Suspected militants mowed down at least four people — all non-Assamese — at Chagulia, bordering Cooch Behar, in Assam’s Dhubri district this evening and injured seven others.
Cooch Behar superintendent of police S.S. Panda said a gang of about 12 Ulfa and National Democratic Front of Bodoland rebels sneaked up on a group of truck drivers and their helpers as they were watching the India-Australia match at a roadside eatery on National Highway 31. They opened indiscriminate fire killing the four — one Bengali and three Hindi-speaking truck operators.
Assam director-general of police P.V. Sumant said Ulfa and Kamtapur Liberation Organisation militants were suspected to have carried out the attack.
It is not clear if the raid is linked to the recent attacks on people from the Northeast in trains passing through Bihar. Hindi-speaking residents of Assam have been at the receiving end of an ethnic backlash since yesterday, when the All Assam Students Union called a protest strike.
Quoting eyewitnesses and the injured, Panda said: “The incident took place as India started batting. The militants, carrying sophisticated weapons, emerged out of the darkness and opened fire at a dhaba close to Baxirhat in Cooch Behar on the Assam-Bengal border.” Police have now sealed the border.
There were about 25 people in the dhaba watching the final of the tri-nation tournament when the shooting took place. Three people died on the spot, while another succumbed to injuries on way to a Cooch Behar hospital, said Assam inspector-general of police S.B. Kakoti. The militants came on bicycles, he added.
Six of the injured were rushed to the MJN Hospital in Cooch Behar while one was shifted to Dhubri Civil Hospital.
Among the seriously injured was a 14-year-old boy, Sapan Sarkar, a resident of Paglahat I Dhubri, who worked as a helper at the eatery. Mohammad Asif, 17, from Darbhanga and Mohammad Sadaf Ansari, 21, also from Bihar, both helpers, are also undergoing treatment.
A pedestrian, Priyobrata Ghosh, a resident of Chagulia, and Mahabir Jadav, owner of a local garage, were caught in the attack, Panda said.