In what is said to be a case of mistaken identity, people of an eastern Assam village bordering Nagaland lynched a soldier of the Gorkha Rifles and seriously injured a captain Monday evening. The soldiers were in civvies and had apparently been double-crossed by informers who led them to the village to catch militants.
According to police officials in Golaghat district, villagers of Kherbari had handed over five bruised soldiers to the 3rd Assam Police Battalion stationed nearby after dusk on Monday. One of the soldiers identified as Subedar Limbu had succumbed to his injuries inflicted by stone-pelting. One had escaped the wrath of the villagers, who claimed the men had come to target a stone quarry owner named Alauddin for extortion.
"Our men relied on a couple of informers who led them to the village saying some militants were hiding there. The soldiers should have stuck together and identified themselves since the area is always tense in view of the border dispute with Nagaland. In all probability, the soldiers must have been mistaken for NSCN militants because of their looks. One of our officers - Captain Vikram Singh - tried to intervene later but was also not spared. He has been sent to the base hospital at Jorhat nearby," said a spokesman from the Army's 3rd Corps at Rangapahar in Nagaland.
The NSCN, allegedly backing Nagaland government forces in its land-grabbing bids in Assam, is known to carry out frequent raids in villages this side of the inter-state border to extort money.
Police said the situation in the village was tense but under control. Army officials, on the other hand, said Kherbari was a hard lesson learnt on overdependence on informers.