Jan. 24: In an incident that could trigger another Kakopathar-like situation, two persons were killed and another was critically injured when Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel opened fire near an ONGC installation at Geleky in Sivasagar district late last night.
Nilikesh Gogoi and Bulu Gogoi were returning to Geleky from Anaki-C village in neighbouring Mokok-chung district of Nagaland on their motorcycle when the incident occurred. Their companion, Arup Saikia, travelling on another two-wheeler, was injured in the incident.
Admitting to the exchange of fire, CISF spokesman Vartul Sen said the duo had been asked to stop at a CISF checkpost. When they failed to do so, the jawans opened fire.
Sen clarified that the force had been deployed to protect ONGC projects in the area and was not “involved in counter-insurgency operations.”
The Assam government has ordered a judicial inquiry and also declared Rs 5 lakh as compensation for the next of kin of the deceased. The injured Saikia is undergoing treatment at Assam Medical College Hospital in Dibrugarh.
A statement issued by the government quoted chief minister Tarun Gogoi as expressing concern over the deaths and promising stern action.
An officer at the Geleky police station said CISF personnel stationed at the ONGC gas gathering station (GGS) number 2 allegedly tried to stop the two motorcycles on which the three were travelling. “But the occupants of the motorcycle allegedly fired at them. In the return fire two persons died while another was injured”.
A case has been registered at Geleky police station and Padum Bora, the CISF jawan who had allegedly fired at the trio, has been detained.
Protesting against the incident, local residents said the three persons have no links with Ulfa and could not have fired at the CISF personnel.
According to them, Nilikesh had an argument with a senior CISF official on the day of the incident. He had allegedly gone to the GGS-2 to take permission for a foreign journalist to shoot pictures of the oil station. Vivalda Late, a French photojournalist now on a visit to Upper Assam, was clicking pictures of pollution by oil companies.
However, the CISF official allegedly denied them permission. Later in the day, some CISF personnel allegedly visited his residence to verify whether he had any link with Ulfa.
Late at night when Nilikesh, Bulu and Arup were returning from their coal-related business from Anaki Basti in neighbouring Nagaland, CISF personnel stopped them near the GGS and fired at them, the villagers alleged. Nilikesh was easily identified since the area was brightly lit.
Sivasagar superintendent of police Shyamal Saikia said the incident was “unfortunate.”
The detained CISF jawan reportedly told police that his deputy commandant T.S. Chadda ordered him to fire at the trio.
Sivasagar deputy commissioner K.K. Dwivedi blamed the CISF for “stepping outside its domain”. The AASU, too, has condemned the firing.