India sought cooperation from Bhutan and Myanmar, as its security forces launched a major offensive against a tribal militant group that massacred over 70 people in Assam this week, officials said.
Home minister Rajnath Singh met army chief General Dalbir Singh to discuss the ground situation and ways to intensify operations against the National Democratic Front of Boroland (Sangbijit), while the government extended the ban on the group by five years.
The Indo-Bhutan border guarding force, Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), rushed 2,000 of its personnel to the state who would undertake joint operations with the army and Assam police units.
Some militants may have fled to neighbouring Bhutan while the leader of the NDFB(S), IK Sangbijit, is based in Myanmar, from where he controls his cadres, police said.
The army has been continuing its crackdown against the NDFB(S) and other militants, but the dynamics have changed after the massacre in Kokrajhar, Sonitpur and Chirang districts, officials said.
“We have intensified counter-insurgency operations and area domination in all violence-affected areas to stabilise the situation,” a defence spokesperson said.
At least 85 people have been killed since Tuesday as Bodo militants attacked Adivasis in Sonitpur and Kokrajhar district, while 14 Bodos were killed in retaliatory attacks and three Adivasi protesters died in police firing at Dhekiajuli on Wednesday.
In Kokrajhar, both Adivasi and Bodo residents have fled to safer areas amid fear of renewed attacks on their villages.
A 12-hour Assam bandh called on Friday by the All Adivasi Students’ Association and All Assam Tea Tribe Students’ Association in protest against the massacre shut down the state, barring Guwahati, sources said.
Clashes between police and demonstrators were reported from several areas. At Gahpur in Sonitpur district, three policemen were injured after Adivasi protesters pelted them with stones and also set police vehicles on fire.
(With agency inputs)