Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has vowed "strong and stern" military crackdown against the outlawed ULFA a day after the rebels gunned down six Hindi-speaking in two eastern Assam districts. He has also threatened action against pro-ULFA groups accused of fomenting sectarian violence.
The ULFA had on Tuesday night gunned down five migrant workers and a grocer—all Hindi-speaking—in Belbari and Borhat villages of Dibrugarh and the adjoining Sivasagar districts respectively. It was a re-run of ULFA violence against Hindi speakers in January that saw over 60 migrant workers from northern and central India being slaughtered.
Appealing to the people to exercise restraint, Gogoi said his government was committed to protecting the lives of all communities, particularly the Hindi-speaking, and defeat the militants' divisive design. "It is now clear that the ULFA is not interested in peace and is being guided by forces inimical to India," he said, admitting the government's inability to check extortion by the outfit.
The chief minister also came down heavily on the Peoples Committee for Peace Initiatives in Assam (PCPIA), a pro-ULFA group accused of instigating communal clashes between indigenous groups and tea plantation workers in eastern Assam's Tinsukia district earlier this week. The clashes apparently provided ULFA the excuse to renew its violence against Hindi-speaking people, who it views as representatives of colonial India.
Tuesday night's killings followed hours after Jiten Dutta, "commanding officer" of the ULFA's dreaded 28th battalion, threatened to exact revenge for every drop of 'indigenous blood' spilt. Dutta was referring to the clashes between locals and tea plantation workers at Doomdooma that left eight persons dead last Sunday and Monday.
The primary cause of the clashes was a weeklong blockade of NH37 at Doomdooma by PCPIA-backed protestors demanding justice vis-à-vis the killing of Budheswar Moran in a fake encounter by the Army. The blockade had cut off supplies to areas further east in Assam and in adjoining Arunachal Pradesh. The tea garden labourers attacked the blockade agitators apparently out of hunger.
Meanwhile, the Assam government has sought additional companies of Central paramilitary forces to maintain law and order in the state. Officials indicated the ULFA had taken advantage of a "security void" created after 40 companies of paramilitary forces were shifted to Uttar Pradesh for Assembly elections there.