It is time for Indias 60th Independence Day. As the rest of the Country and Indians across the world rejoice and get ready to celebrate Independence Day, people of Assam are having sleepless nights every day wondering what they are going to hear next.
With the latest killings on Saturday evening where militants shot dead four Hindi speaking people, the death toll in the recent spate of blasts and killings has crossed hundred.
The situation in Karbi Anglong has been the worst. A total of 27 Hindi-speaking people, including three women and seven children have already been killed and 13 others seriously injured in four joint attacks by ULFA and KLNLF militants in the last four days. Prior to this on Friday night militants killed 14 people in Dolamara village also under Shantipur out post of Bokajan police station. The slain persons were identified as Rekha Devi, 35; Sandip Sahu, 17; Rohit Sahu, 2; Jiban Sahu, 9; Rohan Sahu, 2 month; Rajni Sahu, 6; Rinki Kumari, 9; Niki Kumari, 6; Jogesh Kumar Singh, 15; Munni Kumari, 20; Prabhawati Devi, Brajabhusan Singh, Dinanath Sharma, and Chandrasekhar Sharma. Same evening the militants had lobbed two grenades in a marketplace in Bokajan town where one Hindi speaking person was killed along with a little child. Prior to that a bomb had exploded at a marketplace in the district headquarters of Diphu wounding nine more people. The killings have been ruthless with a number of children and women being amongst those killed. On August 8 militants mowed down another eight Hindi speaking people at Ampahar village in Howraghat police station.
In the wake of the killings of the Hindi-speaking people, particularly Bihar is, Bihar Chief Minister Nits Kumar had sought immediate intervention of the Center.This series of violence had been started by Black Widow, a Dimasa outfit on 7th August by killing four persons at Harinagar under Lakhipur police station in Cachar district.
ULFA and KLNLF are of the view that Bihari and other communities who have migrated from outside Assam are plundering the state’s resources and spoiling its culture and hence they should leave the State immediately.
ULFA also called a six-hour general strike in the state on the Independence Day and asked people to boycott the celebrations. ULFA and the insurgent outfits in Northeast step up their subversive activities every year just before India’s Independence Day on August 15. And the violence is not limited to Hindi speaking people but to the indigenous Assamese population as well. On Friday ULFA rebels killed three people and wounded 12 more in a powerful explosion in Jorhat, the tea capital of India and a place distinctly inhabited by indigenous Assamese people. They are also suspected to be involved in two blasts occurred in Assam’s capital city Guwahati on 6th and 7th August.
ULFA rebels in eastern Assam have killed over 80 people, mostly Hindi speakers, in savage attacks since January. Since the advent of the death dance preceeding the Independence Day celebrations - in all there have been nine separate blasts across the state so far. It may be mentioned that in 2000, militants killed at least 100 Hindi speaking people in a series of well-planned attacks after the rebel group vowed to free the state of all non-Assamese migrant workers.
The State Government has requested for additional paramilitary troopers besides launching a military offensive against the rebels. “We have asked the security forces, including the army, to take effective steps to curb the violence,” Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said.
More than 20,000 people have been killed in the ULFA insurgency. The militant group has been fighting for an independent homeland for Assamese people since 1979.
As I penned down this report for the readers of Assam Times today, my thoughts went back to the Independence Day celebrations that I attended with my father thirty years back when I was in school in Nagaon, as I stood there proudly saluting the National Day and very proud of being born an Assamese. Will we ever see those days in Assam again.