Jorhat/Dibrugarh, May 9: Former Assam minister Pradip Hazarika was wounded and two of his guards were killed in an ambush just a week after the banned Ulfa named him among a crop of AGP leaders who allegedly either masterminded or abetted the “secret killings” during the party’s last term in Dispur.
The attack occurred when Hazarika, Congress minister Anjan Dutta’s main rival in the contest for the Amguri Assembly seat, was returning home from a village in the same constituency. He was riding pillion on a party worker’s motorbike, followed by aides and guards on eight more two-wheelers.
Hazarika, who took bullets on his shoulder and a leg, was shifted from a private nursing home in Sivasagar to one in Dibrugarh later. Doctors said he was out of danger.
One of the AGP leader’s guards, Dhrubo Borsaikia, was felled by a bullet that went through his skull. Another guard, Rukun Ali, succumbed to multiple bullet wounds in hospital. Six other members of Hazarika’s motorcycle convoy, including three policemen, suffered varying degrees of injury and were admitted to the same nursing home.
The injured are Debananda Borgohain, Naren Gogoi, Niren Mcrary, Shankar Bora, Bikash Bora and Suren Hazarika.
Sources said Ulfa had threatened Hazarika of dire consequences over phone on April 30, a day before the outfit’s mouthpiece, Freedom, accused him of conspiring to create a “special force” to target its members and their families.
Most of the victims in the secret killings ' called so because the culprits have yet to be caught ' between 1996 and 2001, were immediate family members or relatives of Ulfa militants.
“I am a true nationalist and that is why some people keep dragging me into controversies,” Hazarika said from his hospital bed, not naming anybody.
The AGP leader said he would continue to do what he was supposed to do without fear.
Sivasagar deputy commissioner K.K. Drivedi announced a magisterial inquiry into the attempt on Hazarika’s life. Superintendent of police Mridul Hazarika said the former minister was returning from Seunial village along with 17 people, including four guards, around 12.45 pm when militants fired at them with automatic weapons from behind a bamboo grove.
Hazarika and Borgohain were at the head of the convoy. Like the AGP leader, Borgohain took two bullets on his body. Some people in the group escaped unscathed by jumping into a roadside drain.
The SP said about six militants had been lying in wait for the convoy at the ambush site, which is on the Samaguri-Borahibari road.
Inspector-general of police (Special Branch) Khagen Sarma said security arrangements for Hazarika had been reviewed and beefed up in view of the threat to his life.
Hazarika had gone to Seunial village to visit an injured party worker.