Four jawans of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) were killed and two injured in an ambush by a suspected tribal militant group on Monday afternoon. The incident at Amlaiguri village in northern Assam's Chirang district is the first major strike on security forces in the past couple of years.
Chirang police said the militants – suspected to belong to the anti-talks faction of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDBF) – remote-controlled an improvised explosive device on a vehicle carrying the SSB personnel before opening fire. The SSB men were on routine patrolling in the Bodo-tribal dominated area.
The deceased SSB men were identified as Pratap Singh, Amit Tiwari, Helsu Serfa and Kishore Kunal. Two other jawans were injured critically in the attack while another went missing after the ambush.
Police said security was intensified soon after the incident was reported. A joint team of police, CRPF and Army later cordoned off two villages in the greater Amlaiguri area.
District police officials had reasons to believe the banned anti-talks faction of NDFB – it has some 500 rebels – was behind the incident. The outfit's chairman Ranjan Daimary is behind bars, but his followers vowed to continue the fight for a sovereign nation for the Bodo tribal people.
The SSB, a border guarding force under Ministry of Home Affairs, was deployed to guard the Indo-Bhutan border from January 2004. Kokrajhar, Udalguri, Chirang and Baksa districts – they fall in the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) – share border with Bhutan.
The decision to deploy SSB along 267 km Indo-Bhutan border in Assam was taken after the Royal Bhutan Army's crackdown on the ULFA, NDFB and Kamtapur Liberation Organization in December 2003. These outfits had at least 30 camps in southern Bhutan before the ejection.
SSB's main job was to check the movement of militants to and from Bhutan.
Earlier this month, the anti-talks faction of NDFB had blown up a railway track at Gossaigaon in Kokrajhar district. A six-year-old boy was killed and 12 others in that incident.
There are intelligence inputs that the anti-talks faction of NDFB would carry out attack on security forces, trigger blasts at public place and railway tracks besides targeting top officials. A thick belt along the Indo-Bhutan in Assam is regarded as stronghold of this faction. The outfit has also been on a massive extortion drive in the four BTC districts as well as Sonitpur district in north-central Assam.