RANJU DODUM | 21 MAY, 2019
Sitting MLA, Son and 9 Others Killed in Arunachal Ambush
Tirong Aboh Killed in Tirap district
NEW DELHI: Suspected armed militants today reportedly attacked and killed the sitting MLA of Khonsa West assembly constituency, Tirong Aboh, and his son in eastern Arunachal Pradesh’s Tirap district.
Aboh was reportedly ambushed by armed men at Bogapani between Borduria and Hukanjuri check gate around 30 km from the district headquarter, Khonsa. While initial reports said that the total number of casualties was seven, the deputy commissioner, PN Thungon, confirmed that the actual tally was 11, including the MLA and his college-going son.
He was reportedly on his way to Khonsa from Dibrugarh in Assam when his convoy was attacked at around 11.30 on Tuesday morning.
Aboh had successfully contested the Khonsa West seat with the regional People’s Party of Arunachal back in 2014 and was looking to retain the constituency on a National People’s Party ticket this time around.
While no organisation has claimed responsibility for the attack as yet, it is suspected that the ambush was orchestrated by a faction of the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN). No official, however, has confirmed this information yet.
The eastern districts of Tirap, Changlang, and Longding are primarily home to the indigenous Nocte, Tangsa, and Wancho people. The districts have also been affected by Naga insurgency for decades. The Indian security forces often engage in armed conflict with various underground outfits active in the region, including the IM faction of the NSCN which has been in talks with the Indian government to bring an end to the country’s oldest separatist movement.
Although almost all factions of the NSCN are active in the three districts, it is the Khaplang faction that reportedly holds sway in the area.
Aboh’s killing is reminiscent of the assassination of former Arunachal West Lok Sabha MP, Wangcha Rajkumar, when he was killed by NSCN-IM men while playing badminton at the Deomali Multipurpose Community Hall in Tirap on 23 December 2007.
Rajkumar was the first major political assassination to have taken place in the state which does not have any home-grown insurgency but its thick forests harbour armed insurgents from Nagaland, Assam, and in recent times, from Manipur even.
The attack on Rajkumar effectively announced the arrival of the NSCN into state politics. And while there have been no assassinations of major political players in the state by the armed groups, this year’s simultaneous elections have witnessed a marked increase in the role of Naga armed groups in the three districts.
Earlier last month ahead of the first phase of voting, Seliam Wangsa, a zila parishad member from Longding district who had been campaigning in support of the BJP’s candidate for the Pongchao-Wakka assembly constituency, Honchun Ngandam. Before that, two NPP workers were allegedly attacked by NSCN men in Tirap district that resulted in the death of one of the victims.
On voting day, Longding-Pumao MLA and NPP candidate Thangwang Wangham found himself in the middle of an altercation allegedly over a ‘misunderstanding’ between supporters of the party and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Wangham had earlier alleged that two of his party workers were kidnapped by the NSCN (K).
Meanwhile, chief minister Pema Khandu today took to Twitter to condemn the killings, calling it a “barbarous act” and promising to take action to “hunt down the perpetrators”.
NPP chief Conrad Sangma also condemned the attack and urged the Centre to take action against those responsible.