Central Govt Promises Tough Action As Body Count Continues (78) in Assam

New Delhi: The Centre today promised strong steps against NDFB(S) and was mulling approaching Bhutan seeking action against the outfit similar to operation against ULFA as the toll climbed to 78 in the carnage by Bodo militants and retaliatory attacks by adivasis in Assam.

Fresh incidents of violence occurred this morning in Gossaigaon area in Kokrajhar where several houses of Bodos were set ablaze by adivasis as the backlash to the Tuesday massacre continued for the second day despite indefinite curfew clamped in the entire district.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today visited Sonitpur, one of the three violence-hit districts in lower Assam while reviewing the situation in the aftermath of the bloodbath by Bodo militants and declared that strong action will be taken against NDFB(S) under the Centre’s “zero tolerance” policy for such “crafted terror”.

Militants killed a total of 71 people– 43 in Sonitpur, 25 in Kokrajhar and three in Chirang district in the Tuesday massacre, a police spokesman told PTI, adding six bodies were recovered today. Most of the victims are women and children.

Asked about operations against the outfit, Rajnath Singh said, “Operations will definitely be launched against the outfit but cannot say when.”

“Government has taken it very seriously. We have decided to act firm against them,” he said.

The Home Minister has also requested External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to seek help from Bhutan to tackle the banned militant group, a Home Ministry official said.

Singh spoke to Swaraj last night and requested her for immediate consultation with the authorities in the Himalayan nation, the official said.

The Bodo militant outfit is believed to have set up a few bases in the dense forest along the Indo-Bhutan border. Officials said that whenever security forces carry out offensives against its cadres, they often sneak into the Bhutanese territory making it difficult to track them down.

In 2003-04, Bhutan had carried out a massive operation against ULFA militants and completely wiped out their bases from that country.

According to the police spokesman, in the worst affected Sonitpur district, six more bodies were recovered this morning from Maitalu Basti under Zinzia police station bordering Arunachal Pradesh taking the toll in attacks by anti-talks Songbijit faction of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) to 43 in the district and overall toll to 71.

Three adivasis were killed in police firing during protests against the carnage yesterday.

In Kokrajhar, the other severely affected district, retaliatory violence by adivasis claimed the lives of four Bodos at Manikpur and Dimapur areas.

Curfew has been also imposed in the affected areas of Sonitpur and Chirang districts along with parts of Dhubri and Baksa districts as precautionary measure, police said.

Singh, accompanied by his deputy Kiren Rijiju, today visited Bishwanath Chariali in Sonitpur district where he held talks with different political and social organisations.

“We will take strong measures to deal with the outfit and will control it effectively,” Singh told reporters.

“The killings by NDFB(S) is not an ordinary act of violence by a militant outfit, but an act of crafted terror and we will deal with it accordingly,” Singh said.

“The Centre has adopted a zero-tolerance policy against all acts of terror and the similar policy will be adopted in this case too,” he said.

Singh said he held talks with the state government on issues related to border and area development of the affected areas.

Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Jual Oram, who accompanied him, will stay in the area, visit the affected villages, talk to the people and submit a report to the Centre soon, he said.

He assured that an investigation by NIA would be conducted into the killings by NDFB(S) militants and that the Centre would provide additional security forces.

Singh had arrived here last evening and held a meeting with Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and senior officials.