GUWAHATI – As the government struggled to contain retaliatory violence and take action against the outfit responsible for killing over 70 tribals in Assam, angry residents at a relief camp in one of the worst affected areas today heckled the Deputy Speaker of the state for making a remark they claimed trivialised the tragedy, according to agencies and TV reports.
Times Now reported that the deputy speaker of Assam, Bhimananda Tanti, said he saw “nothing new in these attacks”. He told reporters at the relief camp in Sonitpur that “attacks happen despite security provided by the government and nothing can be done about that.”
Angry residents of the camp reportedly heckled him when he came for an official visit. The government wants to curb Bodo militancy and was thinking of approaching Bhutan for help as the toll mounted to 78 in the Bodo carnage and the subsequent retaliatory attacks by adivasis in Assam.
PTI reported fresh incidents of violence in Gossaigaon area in Kokrajhar where several houses of Bodos were set ablaze by adivasis as backlash for the Tuesday massacre despite indefinite curfew 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.