Twin setbacks for Ulfa in Assam Four killed in Tinsukia shootout

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 20.04.13
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Jorhat, April 19: An inspector of a commando unit of Assam police, Lohit Sonowal, two hardcore militants of the Paresh Barua group of the Ulfa and a civilian were killed in a fierce gun battle in Tinsukia district this morning.

The militants killed in the encounter have been identified as Raktajeet Hazarika and Ananta Moran. An official said residents of Kordoiguri village, about 45km from Tinsukia, where the incident took place, identified the civilian as Pona Moran, who reportedly died in the crossfire.

Irate villagers later burnt down two vehicles — a Tata 407 and a Sumo — and damaged an ambulance in protest. They also did not allow the police to take away Moran’s body. The village falls under Baghjan police station.

The house in which the two militants were taking shelter was destroyed when a gas cylinder exploded after being hit by bullets. The body of one of the killed militant was charred in the fire.

The Tinsukia district administration has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident, to be conducted by Pallab Mazumdar, circle officer of Doomdooma.

Tinsukia deputy commissioner, S.S. Meenakshi Sundaram, said an operation was conducted on the particular house in the wee hours today following a tip-off that a group of militants were taking shelter there. “The security forces came under heavy fire as soon as they approached the house and Sonowal was hit,” he said.

Since the area was remote, an attempt was made to evacuate the injured police officer on an army helicopter to Tinsukia civil hospital around 7am but the officer died soon after.

Mazumdar, who visited the spot, told The Telegraph over phone that though the villagers identified the civilian as Pona Moran, it was yet to be officially confirmed. “The house caught fire following a cylinder blast. There was heavy firing and bullets hit the cylinder that exploded, leading to the fire which gutted the house completely,” the circle officer said.

Tinsukia superintendent of police P.P. Singh said Hazarika was responsible for criminal activities in the Upper Assam districts for the past few years. “He was also involved in the killing of surrendered Ulfa militant, Tileswar Lahon, at Moran in Dibrugarh district in 2011,” Singh said.

The police officer said Lohit Sonowal was a daredevil officer and had taken part in several successful anti-insurgency operations in Tinsukia district.

Police sources said Kordoiguri was a strong base of the outfit and it was because of this that the villagers had protested after the incident. “We suspect the civilian killed in the encounter was an Ulfa linkman,” a police official said.

This was the second major incident in Upper Assam this month.

Two Ulfa militants were killed in a gun battle with security forces in Dibrugarh district in the second week at Silputa Bordoloni village under Khowang police station. The forces had then recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition.