Govt to unleash all-out offensive
Following the mass killings of nearly 70 people in Assam by the Songbijit faction of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) on Tuesday, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday rushed to the affected districts with a stern message that the Centre will launch an ‘all out operations’ to smoke out the terrorists for harshest punitive measures. It was learnt that there were intelligence inputs about possible attacks by NDFB on the tribal but the forces could not reach on time. On Wednesday morning, Singh spoke to Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi who apprised him of the situation in Kokrajhar, Chirang and Sonitpur districts. “I assured him that Centre will provide all assistance to the state. The Centre is monitoring the situation and an additional 5000 paramilitary jawans have been rushed to the spot,” he said.
Describing the act as ‘cowardly’, Singh ordered an all-out offensive against NDFB militants jointly by police, paramilitary forces and army. Before briefing mediapersons, Singh had a high-level meeting attended by top officials of Ministries of Home, Defence, and Paramilitary Forces and ordered to initiate a massive crack down on the militants.
“It is a very unfortunate and cowardly act. Fifty companies (5000 personnel) of paramilitary forces have been rushed to Assam to assist the state government to deal with the situation arising out of the violence in Sonitpur and Kokrajhar districts. This was an act of terror and we will deal with it accordingly. Whatever action is required, we will take,” Singh said after the meeting. The 4 Corps headquarters of Army in Sonitpur district, has been asked to mobilize troops for the operations against the NDFB militants.
The Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju along with other bureaucrats too went along with Singh to take stock of the situation after being asked by PM Narendra Modi. Sources said, the Home Minister will travel to Biswanath Chariali, one of the worst-hit sub-divisions, on Thursday morning to meet victims and later he will travel to all affected places.
According to MoS (Home) Kiren Rijiju, “There were synchronized attacks on Adivasi people because two violence hit districts including Kokrajhar and Sonitpur are at least 300 km apart. There were intelligence inputs about possible attacks by NDFB but the forces could not reach on time.”
PM has expressed grief over the loss of lives and ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 to seriously injured persons was sanctioned from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF). Additional Rs. 86 lakh is being released to state government from PMNRF. The Union Cabinet, which met this morning under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister, paid homage to the victims. The Cabinet members observed two minutes silence as a mark of respect to the victims.
Meanwhile, in the wake of incident, thousands of protestors on Wednesday hit the street and raised slogans against police inaction in providing security to them. They went berserk and which prompted the local police to open fire, which led to the death of three people at Dhekiajuli in Sonitpur district.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi while briefing the media claimed that 37 tribals were killed in Sonitpur, 25 in Kokrajhar and three in Chirang districts. “The attacks in all three districts began around 6.15 p.m. on Tuesday, almost simultaneously. Among those killed, 21 are women, while 18 are children. Curfew had been imposed in the affected areas,” he said.