| A woman comforts her husband, injured in the Dhekiajuli market blast, at a Guwahati hospital on Monday. (Reuters)
Oct. 4: The National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) today sprung a surprise by declaring that it was 'seriously considering' Dispur's offer for talks even as it gunned down six persons in Sonitpur district in central Assam, taking the toll in the ongoing orgy of violence across the state to 32 since Sunday.
The militant group's president, D.R. Nabla, declared his readiness to accept chief minister Tarun Gogoi's truce offer on the outfit's 18th 'raising day' yesterday and asked its rank and file to get ready for a dialogue.
A statement issued by the group's spokesman, S. Sanjarang, said the NDFB would convey its decision to sit for talks within a few days. The banned outfit appealed to all its members and the Bodo community to be prepared for talks to realise their right ' 'freedom peacefully and democratically or to fight against India generation to generation for our freedom'.
The statement came a day after Union home minister Shivraj Patil during his two-day visit to Assam and Nagaland mooted one nodal officer for each northeastern state for better inter-state co-ordination and to add teeth to counter-insurgency operations.
These officers will not only share intelligence, but also co-ordinate with central agencies, Patil said.
'The government was exploring all angles, including the involvement of external forces in the twin blasts in Dimpaur that left over 40 killed on Saturday. The Centre, I assure you, will extend all possible help to tackle insurgency,' the home minister said.
Patil visited Makrijhora village in Dhubri district where Bodo militants gunned down 12 people on Saturday. Chief minister Gogoi, who accompanied Patil, announced an ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh and job to one family member of the victims.
Patil's seriousness over the situation was somewhat diluted by Assam governor Lt. Gen. (retd) Ajai Singh's observation that the situation in Assam was normal. 'As far as I view the situation, it is normal. We are reading too much into the situation. Just take a round of Guwahati to see what I mean,' he said.
While the governor was thanking the media, the bloodstains of last night's massacre in Sonitpur district have not even dried. Superintendent of police Nitul Gogoi said a group of three NDFB militants indiscriminately fired at the family of a businessman, Satyanarayan Agarwalla and his neighbours, after dragging them out of their residences at Gelaphukuri under Behali police station.
Altogether six persons were killed and eight injured in the attack. Two of the victims '16-year-old Pinki and 15-year-old Kamal Kishore ' were from the Agarwalla family. The other victims belonged to Nepali and Adivasi communities.