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Targeted because we are Bengalis, says lone survivor of Tinsukia killings

The survivor, Shodeb Namashudra, claimed he survived because he dropped unconscious in a stream after a bullet grazed past his ear.

india Updated: Nov 05, 2018 08:01 IST
Sadiq Naqvi
Sadiq Naqvi
Hindustan Times, Tinsukia (Assam)
Bengalis in Assam,Tinsukia,Tinsukia killings
Relatives mourn the death of a family member killed by suspected United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) in Tinsukia district of Assam on November 2.(PTI Photo)

The lone survivor of Thursday’s suspected militant attack in Assam’s Tinsukia district said on Sunday that they were attacked because of their Bengali ethnicity.

Five Bengali-speaking Hindus were gunned down by suspected ULFA(I) ultras in Bisonimukh village, Tinsukia, on Thursday.

“Why would they let off the two Nepalis who passed by on motorbike while we were lined up if their intention was not to target Bengalis?,” asked Shodeb Namashudra, pointing to a small bridge at the entrance of the village where the killings took place.

The deceased were cremated at the same spot on Friday.

Namashudra claimed he survived because he dropped unconscious in a stream after a bullet grazed past his ear.

A father and son, both Nepali speakers said they passed by the bridge on a motorbike on Thursday and the attackers let them off after a brief conversation in Hindi as to where they were coming from and where they were headed to. Minutes later the duo, who were headed to Dhola a few kilometres away, heard gunshots and ran into the Bisonimukh village out of fear. The police questioned one of them on Saturday.

The attack has sprouted fear in the minds of the Bisonimukh villagers, majority of whom are Bengali-speaking Hindus. 

The vulnerability of their ‘jati’ (or community) is now a frequent topic in conversations. Sunil Das, a marginal farmer who grows paddy and vegetables and whose brother Subal Das was one of the five victims said he now fears for his life. “I am scared,” he said. His brother, a father of six daughters, was still alive when Sunil rushed to the attack spot.

“All he said was take me to the hospital. There were two bullets in his legs and two more in his abdomen,” Das said.

“They (pro-talk ULFA groups) have been saying they will kill Bengalis, for many days,” said Subel Namashudra, one of the two brothers of Dhananjay Namashudra (not related to Shodeb), one of the five victims.

“We were not scared... Our names were there in the NRC too. Now suddenly the fear is back,” he said. “Everything seems to be about jati now,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dhananjay Kachari, a member of the dominant Kachari tribe in the region, said, “What happened was bad, but they were not our people. They were Bengalis.”

“This is a result of the provocations that have been going on since the NRC draft came out,” said Lurin Jyoti Gogoi, general secretary All Assam Students Union, who visited Bisonimukh Saturday. “The attack is a handiwork of people trying to foment trouble. Assam is struggling with a communal atmosphere. There is an attempt to widen the Assamese-Bengali, Hindu-Muslim faultlines. We need to stop these provocations,” he said.

First Published: Nov 04, 2018 22:39 IST

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