Assam violence: Death toll rises to 65, six other killed in Adivasi backlash

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Angry people set houses on fire which had been used by NDFB (s) at Tenganola village in Sonitpur district on 24-12-14. Pix by UB Photos
Angry people set houses on fire which had been used by NDFB (s) at Tenganola village in Sonitpur district on 24-12-14. Pix by UB Photos

No less than five attacks took place at various spots in the two districts. The Songbhit faction of the banned National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) better known as the NDFB(S) faction, is suspected to be behind the attacks; the rebel group had earlier threatened the Assam government stating they would carry out attacks in Bodoland area.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tweeted, I spoke to Assam CM Shri Tarun Gogoi & Home Minister Rajnath ji. Rajnath ji will travel to Assam and take stock of the situation.

The five places where the attacks took place are Pabhoi reserved forest and Batasipur in Sonitpur district, Phulbari, Serfanguri, Madhupur-Hatijuli, Tekiajuli, Rangapara, Kakuriguri and Ultapani in Kokrajhar district.

24-12-14 Dekiajuli- Adivasi people protesting (2)

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh too expressed his strong condemnation over the killings to media saying  ‘I strongly condemn the killing of tribals in Assam by NDFB militants. Killing innocent people for any cause can never be justified.I will very soon visit the affected areas and necessary action will be taken to handle the crisis”

However, till this report was filed the death toll was highest in Sonitpur district with at least 37 dead, rest 25 are victims are from Kokrajhar district. In Phulbari of Sonitpur, 30 people were killed. All together the death toll risen to atleast 70 till now. According to Polcie sources atleast 23 women and 18 children including toddlers were killed. Nealry 100 people are injured and undergoing treatment and no less then 300 people are missing. Infact thousands of people from different communities in Bodoland have moved out of their villages and taken shelter safer places. The Government would open relief camp , official sources have added.

Meanwhile, indefinite curfew has been imposed in both the districts and Army has been called in. Assam government has sent an urgent missive to Centre for help. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is reaching Guwahati late evening. Meanwhile protests are on in the affected districts with people coming to the streets and voicing their dissatisfaction over lack of security.

24-12-14 Dekiajuli- Adivasi people gheraoed Dekiajuli police station (1)

A red alert has been sounded in Assam; a massive counter-insurgency operation is on. The international border in Sonitpur and Kokrajhar district with Bhutan has been sealed off and indefinite curfew has been put in the affected places. Manas national park has been closed for a search operation.

According to Police sources, NDFB(S) rebels have carried out this massacre to retaliate intensive counter-insurgency operations that have been launched last week in different parts of BTAD . NDFB(S) had earlier threatened attacking non-bodo community in Bodoland.
Meanwhile in a retaliatory attack in Chirang district of Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District (BTAD) killed the bodo villagers were killed by suspected Adivasi mob, 20 others were injured.  Additional security forces have been sent to BTAD area with Army conducting flag marches.

Meanwhile, angry protestors, belonging to the Adivasi community set ablaze five houses allegedly belonging to the people of the Bodo community in Phuloguri area under Bishwanath Chariali police station in Sonitpur district Protest rallies were also taken out by thousands of tea garden workers, armed with bow and arrows, and a seven-km stretch of National

Highway 15 was blocked by the protestors near Dhekiajuli in Sonitpur. Later the situation turned very tensed , when a huge protest rally of the Adivasis along with six dead bodies was take out in Dhe, the angry mob wanted to storm the local police station, the cops resorted to firing , three Adivasi protesters feel to Police bullets.

24-12-14 Dhekiajuli- Police firing death (2)

Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi in a Press conference in Guwahati  claimed that his Government will never surrender and will tackle this situation very firmly, centre has also assure all help. “right now we need joint effort of all forces and  have asked for more para military forces.New Delhi assured of sending 55 companies of extra forces, 20 companies will reach tonight.I have my meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh in the evening where we will discuss about the immediate measures to be taken.We will try to retain peace so that it does not turn into a communal clashes.The Army has been asked to conduct flag marches” the Assam Chief minister told Tehelka over phone.

Meanwhile, PM Modi has announced an ex gratia of 2 lakhs to next of kins of those who have been killed , 50,000 for those who have been seriously injured in the attacks and retaliatory attacks.
Various orgainsations have called for bandh in Assam protesting the incident . People took to the streets in large numbers across the state to protest and ask for more security. The opposition including BJP has stepped up attack on ruling Congress, especially chief minister Tarun Gogoi , who has been ruling for his third term for that they claim as total collapse of law and order.

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Timeline of Assam violence :

·         On Sept 28, 2014 – Four NDFB-Songbhijit rebels  were gunned down by a joint team of the army and Assam Police at Mwinaguri in Kokrajhar.

·         On Oct 5, 2014 – Four suspected NDFB(S) rebels were arrested from Murabary in Udalguri district.

·         On Oct 8, 2014 – Militant leader Nirjon Basumatary and three civilians  from Bodo community injured in fractional strife at Rowta in Udalguri. On same day, three militants from NDFB(S) arrested after an encounter at Londangpara in Sonitpur district.

·         On Oct 10, 2014- Security forces bust an NDFB (S) transit camp after a brief encounter at Rangapara in Kokrajhar District.

·         On Oct-18,2014- Two suspected NDFB(S) rebels were injured in an exchange of fire with security forces  at Hugrajuli in Sonitpur district.

·         On Oct-21, 2014 – Suspected NDFB rebels took away an INSAS rifle from territorial army’s 135 battalion at Khalashi Kokrajhar.

·         On Oct 23, 2014 – NDFB(S) alleged that security forces are harassing arresting and torturing civilians and family members of the outfit in the name of counter-insurgency operations and warned retaliation.

·         On, Dec 21, 2014 – Army and police shoot dead two NDFB(s) cadres and seize a huge cache of arms from Sulekhaguri under Runikhata police station in Chirang district.

·         On Dec 23,2014 – NDFB(S) series attacks at four-five locations in Kokrajhar and Sonitpur district, atleast 55 killed. Nearly 60 injured.

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Special Correspondent

A young IT professional by training and a journalist by chance, Ratnadip comes from the smallest Northeastern state of Tripura and has been reporting out of Northeast India for ten years, as of 2014. An award winning Journalist, Ratnadip started his career with the Tripura Observer and went on to work with the Northeast Sun, The Northeast Today, News Live, Sahara Time and The Sunday Indian. He has also contributed to BBC, CNN, NatGeo TV, NDTV, CNN-IBN and TIMES NOW. Before joining Tehelka, Ratnadip worked with the national bureau of the television news channel NewsX. He specialises in conflict reporting and has a keen interest in India’s eastern neighbours. He has won the RedInk Excellence in Journalism Award 2013, Northeast Green Journo Award 2013, LAADLI Media awards for Gender sensitivity 2013. He is among 10 young Indian scholars selected by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on trans-boundary river issues of the subcontinent. He is based in Guwahati.

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