The clamour for panchayat poll tickets in Assam claimed one of Ulfa commander-in-chief Paresh Barua’s neighbours in Jeraigaon village as the first victim on Monday.
According to the Dibrugarh district police, 32-year-old Tonen Gohain committed suicide by gulping down a bottle of insecticide. Personnel from the Chabua police station — under which Jeraigaon falls — had to break open the door to take out Gohain’s body around 9 am.
A suicide note was recovered from Gohain’s pocket. “In the note, Gohain said he was ending his life for being denied a Congress ticket for the post of president of the Jeraigaon Gram Panchayat,” said a senior police officer from Dibrugarh town. He added that the body has been sent for an autopsy.
Assam Pradesh Congress Committee leaders have declined to comment on Gohain’s death but admitted he was a frontrunner. “He was an active party member and councillor from the area last year,” a senior APCC leader here said.
About 550 km from the state capital, Jeraigaon is also home to Ulfa general secretary Anup Chetia. In 2005, two of Barua’s brothers — Bikul and Bimal — had campaigned for peace, asking the outfit to explain why it was seeking sovereignty. The Ulfa has been fighting for an independent homeland since 1979.
That year, the villagers also organised a four-day cultural extravaganza in which many who matter in Assam participated. They included Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.
Meanwhile, the panchayat polls have come under a cloud with the authorities deciding not to hold elections in Rabha tribal-dominated areas of Kamrup district. Various tea tribe organisations have also boycotted the rural polls across the tea belt to protest against the non-inclusion of Assam’s Adivasis in the Scheduled Tribes list.