Man affiliated to ULFA(I) nabbed in Tinsukia killings

Assam Police on Saturday arrested a person allegedly affiliated to ULFA (I) in connection with the killing of five Bengali speakers in Bisonimukh village on Thursday, even as the state witnessed a 12-hour shutdown in protest against the incident.

Bhabananda Gogoi was apprehended two hours after the incident from the Dhola Sadia bridge on Brahmaputra river, barely a kilometre away from where the killing happened. “He has a history of taking money and working for ULFA (I) for a long time. His presence so close to the scene of crime raised suspicion,” PS Changmai, superintendent of police, Sadia, said.

Gogoi, who was caught with an improvised explosive device about six months ago, was remanded to police custody for five days by a local court. Police said Gogoi hails from Bassagaon in Sadia in Tinsukia district, a “hub of ULFA” as one senior district police official described claiming that there are around 10 active ULFA(I) operatives from the village.

Police remained tight-lipped about the details of the investigation even as efforts were on to nab the suspected squad which carried out the killing. Meanwhile, the police is still clueless about the exact number of gunmen involved in Thursday’s incident or the number of weapons they were carrying.

The modus operandi, according to Tinsukia police has a striking resemblance to the December 2017 incident when 4-5 insurgents dressed in military fatigues, came on two motorbikes to Dirak Hunjan village, and killed a local leader who worked as president of Village Defence Party.

Among other similarities, the gunmen in that incident spoke to the victim in Hindi while they conversed in Assamese among themselves, one official said.

Villagers in Bisonimukh claimed that two Nepali speakers who passed by as the six persons were lined up before being shot were told to go away by the gunmen, which the villagers see as a clear sign that they came for Bengali Hindus. The sole survivor among the six villagers confirmed this. Another police official explained how it takes just seven hours from the India-Myanmar border in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh to Tinsukia on foot. ULFA(I) and other militant outfits are known to operate from the other side of the border in Myanmar.

The police said it is also not the first time that ULFA(I) has denied its involvement in an incident. “Starting from the killing of Russian engineer Sergei Grischenko to that of social activist Sanjay Ghose, the group has a history of denying its role,” said Mughdhajyoti Mahanta, Superintendent of Police, Tinsukia.

While there is a spurt in recruitment for the insurgent outfit, Mahanta said over the last three years only 8 people including two women have joined ULFA(I) from Tinsukia while “more than 30 have come back from the jungles.”

First Published: Nov 03, 2018 23:54 IST

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