Security personnel stand guard near Bhangarpar in Baksa on Sunday. Picture by UB Photos
May 4: The Assam government is toying with the idea of providing arms to the people living in the BTAD for security as two National Democratic Front of Boroland (Songbijit faction) cadres were killed in an encounter with security forces in Sonitpur district this morning.
An economic blockade, called by Sanmilito Jonogosthiyo Oikyo Moncho, was, however, called off.
Assam home commissioner G.D. Tripathi said this evening that the toll stands at 31 while number of arrested is 26. Earlier, the number of arrested was 30 but four have been released after preliminary interrogation. Thirteen are still missing in the BTAD.
Assam forest minister Rakibul Hussain, who visited Balapara village under Gossaigaon subdivision in Kokrajhar district where eight persons were killed and two others seriously injured on Thursday, said the villagers have demanded licenced arms to those who can afford.
“The people have demanded licenced arms for their security. I will talk to the home commissioner about this, as there is rule of providing arms for self-defence. I will talk to the chief minister about this,” Hussain told reporters at Kokrajhar circuit house.
“People are still scared and demanding adequate security in the area,” he said, adding that about 25 fixed pickets would be set up in the area as demanded by the villagers. Hussain said the government would be tough and the guilty, no matter who they are, would not be spared.
“At Narsingbari (in Baksa where three persons were killed), the people said they have identified some youths from a neighbouring village and lodged an FIR. So, this time, it would not be hard to identify the culprits. An investigation is on,” he said.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi today assured a team of All Bodoland Minority Students Union that an operation would soon be launched to flush out illegal arms from the BTAD.
Assam minister Siddique Ahmed told The Telegraph this evening that the chief minister will visit the affected areas very soon. CMO sources said Gogoi did not visit the BTAD because it would have only affected security arrangements.
|Protesters burn the effigies of Tarun Gogoi and Hagrama Mohilary in Tinsukia on Sunday.
Picture by UB Photos
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi this morning called Gogoi to take stock of the latest law and order situation in the BTAD. Gogoi briefed her about the security measures taken by his government to restore peace.
No fresh incident has been reported in the past 36 hours.
Police said the NDFB (S) cadres today hurled hand grenades at an Assam police patrolling party at Laidengapara under Rangapara police station near the Assam-Arunachal border, over 400km from Kokrajhar. In retaliation, security forces gunned down two militants. The two have been identified as B. Basai and Saya Maya.
The police recovered two pistols, two magazines, one hand grenade and live ammunition along with incriminating documents from them.
The incident took place around 9 this morning.
On why it called off the economic blockade, the Sanmilito Jonogosthiyo Oikyo Moncho spokesperson Jamser Ali said the blockade would have aggravated the situation and security forces would have to be moved to maintain law and order along the roads instead where their need is utmost in order to instill confidence among the people.
The BTAD tremors were felt in Barak valley with a 12-hour strike being called in Hailakandi by two organisations — Progressive Students’ and Youth Forum and Barak Development Parishad — along with protests in Karimganj. The strike, supported by 19 organisations of the district, including the district Congress committee, passed off peacefully.
A strike has been called in Cachar district tomorrow. Assam University has cancelled all exams scheduled for tomorrow because of the strike called by the Cachar Protibadi Mancha.
Asked by citizens participating in a peace meeting in Dhubri as to what steps the police would take in view of the 12-hour statewide strike called tomorrow by Assam Muslim Chhatra Sanstha in protest against the killings, Dhubri additional superintendent of police Debasish Bora said forces would be deployed in all the towns to prevent any untoward incident.
Replying to another question by reporters, Bora said no relief camp had been opened in the district till now and those who attempted earlier to cross over to Dhubri from Kokrajhar on Friday was provided protection in their villages by the Kokrajhar district administration.
An Assam government communiqué issued today stated that five cases have been registered in connection with the violent incidents that took place in the BTAD during the past 72 hours.
A special investigation team from the CID has been rushed to Baksa district to start an investigation so that cases can be smoothly handed over to the NIA as decided in due process. Dispur today formally moved a proposal for an NIA probe into the incidents.
CMO sources said Gogoi had written to Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde this evening. They also said NIA official G.P. Singh, a senior IPS officer from Assam, is likely to arrive here tomorrow to take the probe process forward. Singh was till recently looking after the BTAD.
The next of kin of people who died would be paid ex gratia of Rs 6 lakh according to the ongoing schemes of the central and state governments.