Dibrugarh/Guwahati, Sept. 30: A few weeks of relative calm in Assam and the army’s boast about Ulfa being a spent force were shattered this evening by back-to-back blasts at three places and five casualties.
Militants of the banned Ulfa were suspected to be behind all three blasts in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts, the one that caused the maximum damage occurring in front of a meat shop at Lal Bangla Tinali under Tinsukia Sadar police station around 5.55pm.
Of the 20 wounded people who were rushed to the Assam Medical College and Hospital in Dibrugarh town, two were declared brought dead. One more succumbed to wounds later.
Investigators said the bomb was possibly strapped to a bicycle parked outside the shop.
Another bomb, concealed in a motorcycle parked outside Basanti Cinema Hall in nearby Doomdooma town, exploded around the same time, killing two and leaving at least 20 wounded.
A third blast caused substantial damage to an Oil India Ltd pipeline at Tengakhat in Dibrugarh district around 6.45pm.
The chairman of the Assam Gas Company Limited, B.C. Sarmah, said the damage looked serious and could disrupt gas distribution throughout Upper Assam. The pipeline carries crude and natural gas from the oilfields of Dikom and Tengakhat to Duliajan.
Sarma said gas supply to industrial units like Brahmaputra Valley Fertiliser Corporation Ltd in Namrup, Namrup Thermal Power Station and Lakwa Thermal Power Station, both owned by the Assam State Electricity Board, were likely to be affected.
Suspected Ulfa rebels also gunned down a former comrade, Dipankar Boruah alias Bhaikon, at Panikheti near Nogabat in Jorhat district. Baruah surrendered in Jorhat two years ago and was a resident of Nagabat Mukti Nagar.
Police said four persons on two motorcycles shot him from point-blank range.
The burst of violence came five days after the new chief of the army’s 4 Corps, which leads counter-insurgency operations in Assam, called Ulfa a fragmented outfit. Lt Gen. B.S. Jaswal said in his first interaction with the media in Guwahati that the outfit was headed for a split after setbacks in the past two months.
The general said Ulfa rebels were under tremendous physical and psychological pressure.
“They are dying of malaria with no treatment. They are getting choked due to increasing pressure from the security forces.”
PCC spokesman Rajesh Joshi said the incidents in Upper Assam could not have occurred at a more inopportune time.
“It is very sad. On the eve of the Bangkok summit (on investment), we have these mindless violence that mars the image of the state in front of the world. ”
A delegation is to leave for Bangkok tomorrow to attract investment to the Northeast.