Bodo rebels behind Adivasi killings: Police

Samudra Gupta Kashyap

Guwahati, June 5: THE police have confirmed that the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) was behind the Sunday killings of ten Adivasis. The Adivasis had been living in a relief camp in Western Assam’s Kokrajhar district since 1996.

They were shot with automatic weapons inside the Lungsung reserved forest under Runikhata police station, close to the Indo-Bhutan border in the northern part of the district. Four others who received bullet injuries have survived.

Reports from Kokrajhar said a group of about 25 Adivasis, all from the Galajhar relief camp, had gone to the dense Lungsung reserved forest on Sunday morning to fell wood. There, a group of armed youth accosted them and opened fire on them with automatic AK-47 rifles where ten of them fell to the bullets, while the others fled the scene, leaving four others who were injured.

The panic-stricken survivors however reported the incident to the Runikhata police station only on Monday evening, following which police rushed to the spot. Communication anyway is virtually non-existent in the areas bordering Bhutan in the northern parts of the district.

The police suspect that the miscreants had crossed over to the Bhutan side where they had their hideouts. This is the first incident since the new Congress government took over in Assam on May 18 that militants have struck in such a big way.

The Bodo militants have been after the Adivasis. The Adivasis have been at loggerheads with the Bodo tribals, the original inhabitants of the area, since May, 1996, when large-scale riots broke out between the two communities in Kokrajhar and adjoining districts.

Over 1.8 lakh people, half of whom are Adivasis, are still living in relief camps in the district since 1996 and the process of sending them back has suffered as most of them had earlier encroached on forest land.

The NDFB rebels have been targeting Adivasis, particularly those entering forests and indulging in tree-felling, as the group had, five years ago issued a diktat ‘banning’ tree felling in the Bodo-dominated areas of Kokrajhar, Dhubri, Bongaigaon and Barpeta districts.

In Dhubri and Kokrajhar districts, over 100 Adivasis have been gunned down by the NDFB rebels in the past two years in different reserved forests.

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Referred by: Mukundan CM
Published on: June 7, 2001
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