Atleast 55 Adivasis massacred by rebels, Assam on red alert

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Seriously injured Mon Bahadur Roy being hospitalized, at least three persons sustained injuries including two women following five grenades serially lobbed by NDFB(S) of which two exploded at Patgaon Labrabati along 31(C) National Highway in Kokrajhar district on 23-12-2014, Photo: UB Photos, Click to view more photos
Seriously injured Mon Bahadur Roy being hospitalized, at least three persons sustained injuries including two women following five grenades serially lobbed by NDFB(S) of which two exploded at Patgaon Labrabati along 31(C) National Highway in Kokrajhar district on 23-12-2014, Photo: UB Photos, Click to view more 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.

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.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted his strong condemnation over the killings. “I strongly condemn the killing of tribals in Assam by NDFB militants. Killing innocent people for any cause can never be justified.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also tweeted before announcing Rs 2 lakh each for the kin of deceased: “I spoke to Assam CM Shri Tarun Gogoi & Home Minister Rajnath ji. Rajnath ji will travel to Assam and take stock of the situation.”

Ttill this report was filed the death toll was highest in Sonitpur district with at least 45 dead, rest 15 are victims from Kokrajhar district. In Phulbari of Sonitpur, 30 people were killed. Most of the dead are women and children. Several people are injured and admitted in different hospitals in both the districts.

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 will be visiting Assam today. Protests are on in the affected districts with people coming to the streets and voicing their dissatisfaction over lack of security.

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. 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 had been launched last week in different parts of BTAD . NDFB(S) earlier had threatened attacking non-bodo community in Bodoland.
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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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Post-mortem has been carried out on all 34 dead bodies in Sonitpur district and the bodies have been handed over for cremation. The situation today has been described as partially tense, particularly after three civilians were killed in police firing in Sonitpur a few hours ago. The dead were identified as belonging to the Adivasi community. The police opened fire on them because the Adivasis gheraoed the Dhekiajuli police station and tried to attack the police personnel there. Compounding the already tense situation was the burning of some houses, belonging to theBodo community, in Vishwanath Chariali area in Sonitpur.

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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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