Kokrajhar/Dhubri, April 25: The already restive National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) flew into a rage after police shot dead one of its members when he was trying to enforce a bandh today in protest against the arrest of eight members of the militant group in Guwahati last weekend.
“It is a cold-blooded murder,” the outfit, which has a ceasefire with Delhi, said.
Police said a group of nine motorcycle-borne NDFB militants reached Sapatgram market, in Bilasipara subdivision of Dhubri district, around noon and started intimidating shopkeepers who had not downed shutters. The rebels next moved to the fish market to enforce the bandh.
When the traders refused to oblige, one of the militants allegedly whisked out a revolver and fired in the air. A police team reached the area soon after and accosted the group, leading to an exchange of fire and the death of a militant identified as B. Dwithun. The remaining rebels fled immediately, leaving two motorbikes behind.
Two residents of Sapatgram ' Ranjit Saha and Rajnandan Sharma ' were wounded in the fracas.
Activists of the NDFB hurled a Molotov cocktail ' a bottle filled with rags dipped in petrol and set ablaze ' at a railway engine and attacked a couple of trucks elsewhere in the Bodo heartland. Four train drivers were wounded in the first incident.
The attack on the Tezpur-Rangia Express occurred at Rawta Bagan station in Udalguri district at 10.30 am. A spokesperson for Northeast Frontier Railway said the engine, which was partially burnt, had to be detached from the train to prevent the fire from spreading to the passenger coaches.
Militants of the NDFB next set fire to two trucks on National Highway 52 at Bahingram, in the same district, and damaged two motorcycles at Serfanguri, in Kokrajhar district.
The NDFB, whose truce with Delhi took effect in May last year, refused to accept Dwithun’s body till the government issued a clarification. “Our boys were not forcing anybody to close shop. They were only requesting the traders to observe the bandh. The police fired at them from behind,” B. Jwngblao, commander of the NDFB’s Dhubri unit, said.
Inspector-general of police R.M. Singh said the situation was tense but under control. “Army and paramilitary personnel have been rushed to the spot,” he added.
The NDFB’s call for a 24-hour bandh may not have affected life outside the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts and its adjoining areas, but the incidents during the day could definitely influence Dispur and Delhi’s attitude towards the militant group.
Eight NDFB members were arrested in Guwahati on Saturday for alleged extortion, prompting the militant group to formally lodge a complaint with the Union home ministry. The ministry yesterday asked Assam police to compile a report on the circumstances leading to the arrests.
In another incident, a Karbi youth having links with the fledgling Karbi People’s Liberation Front was lynched last night at Pulia Basti, under Diphu police station, for trying to extort money.