Nagaon, Aug. 28: Suspected Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF) militants triggered an explosion at the Hauraghat residence of hills area development minister Khorsingh Engti early today, ostensibly to keep him from attending a public meeting at Dolamara, the site of two massacres earlier this month.
KLNLF militants had gunned down 18 Hindi-speaking people at Dolamara in two separate attacks on August 10 and August 12.
Engti, who has been at Hauraghat since August 23, was scheduled to take part in the public meeting before leaving for Guwahati today. “His Dolamara visit has now been postponed,” a source close to the cabinet minister said.
Police said the militants had planted the bomb at one end of the perimeter wall of the residence. The lone sentry post is located at the other end of the wall but the darkness and the forested area obstructed the security personnel’s view.
The police said the blast was triggered at 2am through a remote-controlled device from a distance of about 100 metres inside a forest. Flexible wires measuring 100 metres long was recovered from the spot. The minister was asleep inside.
Hauraghat is 50km from the district headquarters town of Diphu and nearly 80km from here. The area is known to have a strong presence of KLNLF militants.
The wall was partially damaged in the blast while glass panes of two doors and three windows were shattered.
The police said six security personnel, including the minister’s four personal security officers, were on duty at the time of the blast.
“We rushed to the spot on hearing the sound of the blast, but nobody was there,” one of the PSOs said.
Shocked by the incident, Engti refused to comment except that “it is the police who can explain the matter as they are investigating it”, he told the group of reporters who rushed to his residence this morning.
Karbi Anglong deputy commissioner M. Angamuthu said it was yet to be ascertained which group was involved in the blast. “Investigations are on. We hope to achieve some breakthrough soon,” he said.
Angamuthu said steps have been initiated to enlarge the security cover for the minister.
Sources believe that the blast was orchestrated to keep the minister away from the meeting rather than harm him. “But whatever be it, that the militants could come so close is an unnerving thought and we will take up the matter at the highest level,” the minister’s aide said.
Engti was elected as the Hauraghat legislator in the last Assembly election and included in the Tarun Gogoi cabinet as the only minister from the two hill districts — Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills.