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NDFB massacre toll 14
Published on 6 Oct. 2009 12:50 AM IST
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villagers protests; Centre rushes paramilitary forces The Centre today rushed additional paramilitary forces to Assam to assist the state administration after last night’s massacre by the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) militants as the toll rose to 14. Five of the injured in the attack on Balichung Dimajuli village in Sonitpur district succumbed to their injuries today while bodies of Duleswar Pradhan, a school teacher of Diring primary school, and Manju Devi an AASHA worker, were found, officials said. Union Home Ministry sources said in Delhi that acceding to the request by the Assam government, CRPF personnel have been dispatched to Sonitpur district, but their exact number was not known immediately. Assam DGP Shankar Barua was attacked by protesters armed with bows and arrows when he was returning to Tezpur after reviewing the situation with ministers, the sources said. Three persons were injured when the DGP’s security guards fired on the protesters, the sources said. The injured were admitted to the Tezpur civil hospital. Barua’s pilot car was partially damaged in stone throwing, they said. The angry villagers, demanding security, had earlier in the day attacked the Balichung police outpost set ablaze several houses and a vehicle of a magistrate besides blocking roads. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi who condemned the massacre by the anti-talk faction of the NDFB, announced payment of Rs three lakh as ex-gratia to the next of kin of those killed, Rs 50,000 each for the grievously injured and Rs 10,000 each with minor injury. Gogoi in a statement said those responsible for such cowardly acts would be dealt with firmly and sought cooperation of the people to maintain peace and restraint. Senior ministers Himanta Biswa Sarma, Bhumidhar Barman and Nurzamal Sarkar reviewed the situation with police and army officials after visiting the spot. Army and police launched a joint operation to flush out militants from the nearby hilltops where they were suspected to be sheltering. Several social organisations and student bodies called for a day-long Sonitpur district bandh tomorrow to protest the killing. An Assam government spokesperson said army soldiers were deployed to assist police and civil authorities to quell the backlash by violent mobs. “The situation is tense and hence we decided to take the help of the army in restoring peace and calm in the area,” Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam health minister and government spokesperson, told IANS. The villagers who were targeted by the NDFB, fighting for an independent homeland for the Bodo tribe, were a mix of tea plantation workers, people of Nepali origin now settled for decades in Assam, besides indigenous Assamese citizens. “Inordinate delay by the police to reach the site of the massacre led to a number of people succumbing to their injuries. The militants were at our village for close to an hour and despite the police being informed of the attack, they failed to arrive in time,” Subhas Chetri, one of the first to have informed the police, said. “The NDFB probably attacked the village after the locals refused to pay extortion money. The militants had served extortion demands to many locals in the area,” Assam Fisheries Minister Nurzamal Sarkar said. Sarkar represents the area in the assembly. The villagers comprising mostly Assamese, Nepalese and Adivasis had recently decided in a meeting not to accede to the extortion demands which could have possibly triggered the attack.

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