Nagaon/Guwahati, April 29: A jittery Northeast Frontier Railway sought “special protection” from the Assam government after two of its employees, including a stationmaster, were gunned down by militants at a railway station in Karbi Anglong district last night.
A team of militants suspected to be from the Dima Halam Daoga (DHD) and the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) entered Doldoli railway station, between Diphu and Dimapur, and killed the duo for not responding to their extortion notes.
The anti-talks faction of another militant group, the United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS), was initially suspected to have been behind the incident.
NF Railway’s chief public relations officer Leena Sarma said Dispur had been requested to arrange for special security at countryside railway stations, particularly those in Karbi Anglong and the adjacent North Cachar Hills. She said railway staff based in these places had reported receiving threats from militant groups to pay up or face the consequences.
“The Railway Protection Force has already intensified patrolling in the remote areas, but such efforts need to be complemented by the state police force,” she said.
The militant strike at Doldoli was the third in the district in four days. On April 25, suspected UPDS militants hurled a grenade at the Autonomous State Demand Committee office in Diphu town, injuring six party workers.
The next day, suspected NDFB and DHD militants attacked a labour shed at Khatkhati, between Bokajan and Dimapur. Three workers engaged in the national highway reconstruction project died and four were injured.
The Karbi Anglong and NC Hills People’s Resistance, which is the armed wing of the UPDS’ anti-talks faction, denied its involvement in the Diphu attack. In a release, its publicity secretary Thong Terong claimed the operation was carried out by the Kuki Revolutionary Army to teach the ASDC a lesson for scrapping its 1999 agreement with the Kuki community.
The DHD, too, denied its involvement in the killing of labourers at Khatkhati.
Karbi Anglong superintendent of police Pankaj Sarma said patrolling had been intensified in the remote areas of the district. On NF Railway’s request for special security arrangements, he said the police offered protection a few days ago, but the rail authorities declined to accept it.
Diphu stationmaster Dilip Choudhury said three militants entered the isolated railway station and demanded Rs 30,000 each from stationmaster Nareswar Kalita and another employee, Rajendra Prasad. When the duo refused to part with any money, the militants opened fire, killing both on the spot. The police found eight rounds of used AK-47 ammunition there.
The incident took place a few minutes before the BG Express was scheduled to reach Doldoli station. “To avoid a possible attack on the BG Express, which was headed towards Guwahati, it was halted at Dhansiri station till this morning. The train reached Doldoli at 5.24 am today, almost eight hours after the scheduled time,” the stationmaster said.
Choudhury said there was no railway employee at Doldoli station to signal the train after the duo was shot dead.
The Karbi Anglong SP said the DHD’s suspected involvement in the incident was tantamount to violating its ceasefire agreement with Delhi.