Jorhat, Aug. 8: The banned Ulfa today triggered a series of blasts near chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s ancestral home in Titabor, targeting two power transmission towers standing close to each other.
The blasts damaged the twin towers, but neither fell. There was no disruption in power supply either.
As many as five blasts rocked the 400 KV tower of the PowerGrid Corporation and the 132 KV installation of the Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB) in the chief minister’s constituency, which is in Jorhat district and borders Nagaland. The militants had planted six bombs, one of which did not explode.
The blasts ripped off three legs of the PowerGrid tower and two supports of the ASEB structure.
“It is a miracle that the towers are standing, one on one leg and the other on two legs. Had the towers fallen, there would have been a major power breakdown in the state,” said Dibakar Borgohain, superintending engineer of the ASEB (transmission & transformation), Upper Assam circle.
The PowerGrid line supplies power from the Kathalguri gas turbines in Dibrugarh district to Meesa in Nagaon district and the ASEB line from Mariani to Dimapur, in Nagaland. The series of blasts occurred simultaneously around 3 am. The towers are in the vicinity of Gobinpur Tea Estate, about 4 km from Titabor town and less than 10 km from the Assam-Nagaland border. The nearest border outpost, manned by Assam Police Battalion personnel, is Bandarchaliha.
“The sound of the blast was deafening. But I thought it to be a thunder and went to bed,” said Prafulla Dutta, factory assistant of the tea garden, who returned home late after his nightshift duty.
Police said a timer device was used to detonate the bombs.
A 165-metre wire, 10 pencil batteries, two watches and a camera flash were found at the incident site. The unexploded bomb weighs 1.8 kg.
Today’s blasts were the 12th such incident in Upper Assam this year and first in Jorhat district, which remains by and large peaceful. Being the chief minister’s home district, Jorhat has been the Ulfa’s main target, as indicated by intelligence reports.
“Our forces were always on the alert but it is difficult to guard all the places, especially the remote areas,” Jorhat superintendent of police Surendra Kumar said. He said the militants might have sneaked into the neighbouring Nagaland after carrying out the blasts.
The blasts occurred barely seven hours after suspected Ulfa militants triggered a blast in Guwahati, injuring three security personnel.