Longsual (Tinsukia), Jan. 7: Nine bodies lay on National Highway 37 today and the air was pregnant with tension.
Curfew was in force in the district but the highway was spilling over with protesters. “Paresh Baruah murdabad, Ulfa murdabad,” the crowd, which had gathered to give vent to its anger at the carnage, shouted.
By the time Union minister of state for home Sri Prakash Jaiswal arrived at Longsual this afternoon, the agony and frustration had turned to desperate pleas for a chance at life.
“Babu, hum logo ko bachaiye, yaha ka police prasasan bilkul bekar hai…” (Sir, please save us, the police and administration here are totally worthless),” one of the victims’ relatives pleaded with the central delegation, led by Jaiswal.
Holding banners and placards denouncing Ulfa and the outfit’s commander-in-chief, the protesters also demanded President’s rule in Assam.
Parashuram Gupta lost his son Arvind in the massacre on Friday evening. He did not utter a word but the anger and grief on his face said it all.
“Hume bachaiye, nahin to Ulfa log hume bhi mar dega” (Please save us. Otherwise, these Ulfa people will kill us as well),” was the plaintive cry from Naresh Prasad, another resident of the area.
As the outpouring of anger continued, senior officials, including chief secretary Prafulla Chandra Sarma and director-general of police R.N. Mathur, were rendered speechless.
The protesters demanded compensation of Rs 10 lakh each for each of those killed, Rs 5 lakh for those injured and government jobs to one member of each family that lost somebody in the carnage.
Although the people assured Jaiswal that they would withdraw the agitation, the nine bodies were lying on the road till this report was filed.
The minister later went from door to door to meet relatives of the other victims.
The Assam government today appealed to all its employees, teachers, students, members of the business community, industry and NGOs to wear black badges tomorrow as a mark of protest against the attacks on Hindi-speaking people in Upper Assam, adds our staff reporter in Guwahati.
The All Assam Students Union (AASU) has also decided to observe a “black day” on January 11 by holding sit-in demonstrations in all district headquarters, wearing black masks.
The Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti and the Peoples Committee for Peace Initiatives in Assam, too, condemned the killings.