A day after five Bengali-speaking workers were killed in Assam’s Tinsukia district, allegedly by ULFA(Independent), the outfit released a statement denying any involvement in the attack.
Publicity Department member of the ULFA(I) Romel Asom in a statement e-mailed to Outlook said, "The ULFA (I) would like to make it clear to all concerned authorities that our organisation does not have any involvement in the firing incident last night.
Recounting the incident, locals said four to five armed militants came in Army fatigue and started firing at the people who were playing Ludo in front of a Dhaba on late Thursday evening.
The victims have been identified as Shyamlal Biswas, Avinash Biswas, Ananta Biswas, Dhananjay Namasudra and Subal Das.
“We were asked to follow them (militants). They came to us and told us that there were some points to be discussed. But after walking for a few minutes, they asked us to sit in a row and started firing. It was dark and smoky. I slipped off and remained still for a few minutes. They thought I’m dead. I ran after they left,” Sahadev Namasudro, an eye witness, told reporters.
The incident took place at a remote location called Kherbari under Dhola Police Station in the district that borders Arunachal Pradesh in eastern Assam, the police said.
“We have been living here for ages. We are poor people, we don’t know about politics. We don’t understand what these murderers will gain by killing us. The police and administration must take the responsibility. Now we are scared,” Subimal Biswas tells Outlook.
The Assam police has launched a combing operation to nab the accused.
Director General of Police Kuladhar Saikia and Additional DGP Mukesh had rushed to Tinsukia to review the law and order situation.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal condemned the killings and said strict action will be taken.
Deeply anguished by civilian casualties in an attack in Upper Assam region. It is a reprehensible act of mindless violence. Spoke to Assam CM Shri @sarbanandsonwal regarding the incident and asked him to take strict possible action against the perpetrators of this heinous crime.— à¤°à¤¾à¤ÂÂÂÂÂÂà¤¨à¤¾à¤¥ à¤¸à¤¿à¤ÂÂÂÂÂÂà¤¹ (@rajnathsingh) November 1, 2018
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wondered if the attack was an outcome of recent development in National Register of Citizens in Assam.
“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?,” she tweeted.
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
We have no words to express our deep sorrow to the grieving families. The perpetrators must be punished at the very earliest 2/2— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) November 1, 2018
Assam, which had faced influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC which was first prepared in 1951.
On October 13, the same ULFA faction had triggered a blast in Guwahati this year and claimed responsibility. Its chief Paresh Baruah had later told some TV news channels that the blast was a warning to those supporting the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
(With inputs from agencies)