Many Christians among 50 killed in Assam

Source: Matters India

New Delhi: More than 50 people, many of them tribal Christians, were killed by suspected Bodo militants in Assam’s on Tuesday.

Enraged residents of a village in Sonitpur district Wednesday took the victims’ body to the local police station to protest police inaction.

“They are on a gharao (encircle) of the police station,” said Fr Hippolytus Toppo of Tezpur diocese that covers Sonitpur district where most killings took place.

The pastor of Hugrajuli parish said many of the victims in the militant attacks were Christians.

One of the affected Christian village is Batasipur where the residents have laid siege to the police station.

National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Songbijit) or NDFB(S), used AK-47 to mow down men, women and children at five places in Kokrajhar and Sonitpur districts.

Villagers who fled the carnage told police that the rebels came on foot, armed with assault rifles and wearing military uniforms. They forced open the doors of their thatched huts and opened fire. Some people were pulled out of their houses and shot at point-blank range.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the killings as an “act of cowardice” in a Twitter post.

Federal Home Minister Rajnath Singh is scheduled to visit the area on Wednesday.

The affected areas come under Bongaigaon and Tezpur dioceses and lie between a distance of 450 km, said Janak Basumatary, a member of the Catholic Council of India.

The resident of Kokhrajhar under Bongaigaon diocese told Matters India that most victims near his place are Christins.

The victims are Adivasis, or people with roots in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh states in central India. They traditionally work in Assam’s tea estates.

The attackers are members of NDFB-S, a breakaway faction of Bodo militants, who are fighting for a separate homeland for indigenous Bodo tribesmen.

The death toll in the five incidents crossed 50 with the recovery of more bodies on Wednesday. The serial attacks were reported simultaneously from 6 to 7 in the evening.

At least 40 Adivasi people were killed in Sonitpur district alone. Most bodies were recovered from the Paboi reserve forest areas. In Batashipur also, the militants killed at least five people forcing security forces to intensify operation along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border, NDTV reported.

Security forces are intensifying a full scale crackdown against the militants along the Indo-Bhutan border after the militants killed four Adivasi villgers in Ultpani in Kokrajhar district.

Basumatary, who lives 25 km away from Ultpani, said the killings have sent shock waves in the area.

A full scale operation is in progress against NDFB-S after the killings. Army, police and para military forces have intensified the combing operation. Indo-Bhutan border has been sealed to prevent the militants from escaping to the neighboring country.

Police sources told Assam Times that the dreaded attacks are nothing but the retaliation of the ongoing intensified crackdown in Kokrajhar where at least four militants were killed this week. Police have intelligence inputs of an impending backlash. But they concentrated on Muslims, mostly settlers from Bangladesh, leaving out the Adivasis.

In May, NDFB (S) militants killed 11 people in two districts of Assam falling under Bodoland Territorial Administration area.

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