Three persons — all from a Hindi-speaking family — were killed and 11 others injured in a bomb explosion in front of the Guwahati railway station around 5.30 pm on Thursday.
The blast occurred minutes before the Rajdhani Express was to arrive. Police suspect the ULFA hand behind the blast.
City SSP Nitul Gogoi said the blast took place at an auto-rickshaw stand near the railway station. "The militant used a programmable timed device that was planted in a rickshaw," he said.
The victims were identified as rickshaw-puller Vinay Chauhan (25), his wife Reena (20) and their two-year-old son Uday. While Reena succumbed to her injuries in the MMC Hospital, the other two died on the spot. Of the injured, the condition of five was said to be critical.
Though the blast took place barely a few paces from the entrance to the railway station, Northeast Frontier Railway authorities distanced themselves from any security responsibility.
"The site of the blast is the state police's concern," said railway CPRO Trikalagya Rava. Interestingly, the blast site is nearly 50 meters from the transit camp of BSF, about 70 meters from the Army's transit camp and the Railway Reservation Centre, and 150 meters from the Reserve Bank of India's regional head office, which had earlier been a target of ULFA's extortion.
For the Tarun Gogoi government, Thursday's blast in a high-security zone came uncomfortably close on the heels of the twin blasts of November 5 that killed 14 persons, most of them Hindi-speaking. It also punctured the government's claim of 'watertight' security arrangements in the city.
The ULFA is said to have used the ‘ceasefire’ period (August 13 to September 24) to regroup its forces and has been focusing its attacks on the Hindi-speaking people ever since. In most cases, bombs are placed in areas where there are more chances of ‘outsiders’ getting killed.
Since the November 5 blasts, there has been an exodus of Hindi-speaking communities, especially those belonging to Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The last meeting of the Unified Command Structure following the visit of Union Home secretary VK Duggal had emphasised better intelligence sharing among the security agencies on militants’ movement. Thursday's blast could have been an outcome of intelligence failure.