Threatening the push Assam back to dark days of terror and violence during 1980s and 1990s, 5 persons were shot dead by suspected ULFA militants in Assam. The incident happened at Kherbari village near Dhola in eastern Assam. The location is near the India’s longest Dhola Sadiya bridge over Lohit river.
According to reports, 6 suspected ULFA militants came to the village in the evening in Army fatigues, face covered with cloths. They went to a grocery shop in the village and asked six persons present there to come with them in the pretext of asking for some information. They took them away from the village to an isolated place, and asked them to sit in a row. After that, they started blindly firing at them. The firing killed five of them, but missed one person who was sitting at one end, who had lied down immediately after firing started. As it was dark, and the firing had caused smoke in the area, the attackers could not see the victims properly, and left assuming that all six are dead.
The deceased have been identified as Subol Das, Dhananjay Namashudra, Shyamal Biswas, Ananta Biswas and Avinash Biswas, three of them from the same family. Sahadev Namasudra was able to miraculously escape the massacre.
Security forces have already a launched a massive search operation in the area, including CRPF and Assam police commando teams. The area is not very far from past ULFA camps on Assam-Arunachal border. Assam government has asked DGP and ADGP of the police, and minister Keshab Mahanta, to go to the location immediately. Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal has said that strongest action will be taken against the perpetrators of this heinous crime.
We will take strongest action against the perpetrators of this heinous crime. I have directed all law enforcing agencies to maintain peace and take stern action against anybody trying to destabilise our peaceful society and state.
— Sarbananda Sonowal (@sarbanandsonwal) November 1, 2018
Section of politicians and activists in the state are already trying to create a divide between Assamese speaking and Bengali speaking people in the state. This incident has the potential to ignite that tension into a massive conflict. Given that context, Sonowal also directed all law enforcing agencies to maintain peace and take stern action against anybody trying to destabilise the environment in the state.
Trying to gain political mileage from the incidence, WB chief minister Mamata Banerjee used it to repeat her opposition to NRC, asking if the attacks are a result of recent development on NRC.
Terrible news coming out of Assam. We strongly condemn the brutal attack in Tinsukia and the killing of Shyamlal Biswas, Ananta Biswas, Abhinash Biswas, Subodh Das. Is this the outcome of recent NRC development ? 1/2
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) November 1, 2018
But probably the attack has nothing to do with NRC, the most probable reason behind that is proposed amendments to the Citizenship Act, which seeks to give citizenship to religious minorities from neighbouring countries. While several Bengali organisations in Assam are supporting the amendment, many non-Bengali organisations are opposing it. They fear that if large numbers of Hindu Bangladeshis are settled in Assam, the demography of the state will change forever, and Bengali will become the dominant language, like Tripura.
The state is facing continuous protests against the amendment, and even ULFA has spoken against it. ULFA also has a history of attacking people from other states, that’s why they are the main suspects of the attacks.