FINALLY GOVT RECOGNISES BODO ATTACK AS AN 'ACT OF TERROR'
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh
NEW DELHI: Terming the barbaric attacks by the NDFB (Songbijit faction) on Adivasis as an “act of terror” , Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh who had rushed to Assam on Thursday assured of the strongest possible action against the “terrorists”.
“What has happened is no small incident of militancy. This is a brazen act of terror and will be dealt with as an act of terror should be. There will be zero tolerance and operations will be intensified against those behind the bloodbath”, he said.
Asserting that Centre has "zero tolerance" policy for such "crafted terror", he declared that toughest of the action would be taken against the “massacre” that the Bodo militants carried out, further adding that National Investigative Agency(NIA) probe has been instituted into these killings.
Choosing to stay away from the actual sites of violence and relief camps, Singh rather met the families of victims and Adivasis representative delegations at the circuit house in Biswanath Chariali in Sonitpur district, the worst-hit district in the attacks.
He further appealed to the people to observe restraint and prevent an further ethnic clashes in the State.
Thousands of people-both from the tribal community as well as from the Bodo community have been displaced due to the brutal attacks by the NDBF(S) rebels and the retaliatory attacks by some Adivasi miscreants.
Those rendered homeless have taken shelters in schools and churches in Sonitpur and other violence-hit districts. There are six relief camps across the affected districts.
While hundreds of the locals are also missing, there have been reports of scores of villagers having fled to the neighbouring states for their security.
According to reports, more than 300 tribals have fled to West Bengal for shelter.
Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of the state confirmed the influx of the victims from Assam and said her government would house them. “Many adivasi (tribal) families have started coming to our state for shelter. We have made necessary arrangements to help them and we will continue to do so,” Banerjee wrote on her official Facebook page.
The death toll resulting from the ongoing violence has climbed to 79, including 21 women and 18 children, amid reports of the police firing at the protesting villagers and retaliatory attacks on Bodo settlements by some of the angry Adivasis.
Three tribal villagers were killed by the police in Sonitpur district on Wednesday evening when they reportedly attacked the Dhekiajuli Police Station during a protest march there.The police claimed hundreds of plantation workers armed with spears and bows and arrows defied the curfew which has been imposed since Tuesday to surround police stations in Sonitpur district, the area worst hit by the militant violence. As a result, the police had to control the mob lynching towards them and opened fire in response.
There have also been reports of retaliatory attacks by the enraged Adivasis on Bodo settlements on Wednesday morning, including beheading of two persons from Bodo community in Chirang district and setting ablaze dozens of houses belonging to Bodos in Kokrajhar and Sonitpur districts.Reportedly, five persons have died in the retaliatory action.
An indefinite curfew has been clamped on Sonitpur, Kokrajhar, Udalguri and Chirang districts in Assam.
Further, neighbouring state of Arunachal Pradesh has also sounded red alert.
The army has been heavily deployed in all the violence-hit areas and is 'actively' involved in maintaining the law and order situation, a defence spokesperson said.
Home Minister Singh asserting that there should be time-bound action vis-à-vis offensive against the ultras and said that 50 companies of Central paramilitary forces have already been deployed in the State.
Having received the information from External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Singh informed that the Indian government has also been assured of cooperation from "one of the premiers" of Bhutan and Myanmar for flushing out terrorists from their territories.
Earlier,Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sanctioned ex-gratia relief of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to each of the seriously injured.
Another fact which is creating a hue and cry in the state is that the State government had been informed by the Centre and their own sources about the possibility of an attack in the northeast state by the insurgents.
Central intelligence agencies as well as the special branch of Assam Police had informed the state about NDFB's Songbijit faction's plans to carry out strikes against adivasis and Santhals in Sonitpur and nearby areas around 4pm on Tuesday, which was even confirmed by Assam’s Additional Director General of Police (special branch) Pallab Bhattacharya.
However, Pallab had also added "But we had no specific information about the locations”.
On being asked about the failure of state government in preventing the carnage as is being suggested by the reports, Home Minister, while evading a direct reply said that both the Centre and the State needed to cooperate in tackling the menace of insurgency, adding, that the Centre would offer every possible assistance to the State Government in that endeavour.