TURA: It was not the anti-talks faction of the Bodo group NDFB which together with the GNLA ambushed a police mobile party at Tapa Darengchi village, near Mendipather on Saturday morning but heavily armed militants of the ULFA faction headed by Paresh Barua.
East Garo Hills police has given specific details about the involvement of the ULFA militants together with the GNLA.
“The meticulous planning and the precision firing was led by well-trained ULFA militants who lay in ambush from three different sides of the road. In fact the first rounds of fire were so intense and on the front portion of the vehicle that the front occupants of the vehicle had little time to react,” informed a senior police officer from the crime scene.
Details have also emerged that the two injured cops survived the onslaught mainly by getting out of the vehicle with one of them jumping into a nearby gorge.
When the shooting stopped three heavily armed militants in olive green dresses came down towards the vehicle and further shot the three policemen just to be sure before taking away their weapons. They also took a shot at one of the injured policeman who lay next to the road a little distance from the ill-fated Sumo vehicle. He survived because he fell unconscious and the militants passed him as dead.
The other constable who jumped into the gorge could clearly hear the militants speak in Garo and Assamese with one of them suggesting about lobbing a grenade just to make sure the cop who went down did not return. What made them change their mind is not known but they hurriedly made off with the weapons and ammunition and bullet proof vests of the fallen policemen.
All along primary suspect had been the involvement of NDFB and GNLA but circumstantial evidence and conversations of the militants at the site of the encounter have now cleared the picture of who was involved. The anti-talks faction of the ULFA headed by its dreaded commander-in-chief Paresh Barua had forged links with the GNLA as way back as last year.
ULFA needs the East and South Garo Hills jungle terrain for shelter and storage of weapons and also as a corridor for transit between Bangladesh and Assam. The bonding with the GNLA fulfills that agenda given that the Garo outfit requires the armament and training power of the Assam-based militant organisation to consolidate their position in the three districts of Garo Hills.
The biggest fear for security forces is the transfer of training in explosives from the ULFA to the GNLA. ULFA had long back mastered the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to take on security forces. It is easy to shift and prepare and does not require close combat fight with security forces that are well trained. The devastation caused by IEDs is there for all to see in Assam.
Unless the threat can be neutralised at the earliest Garo Hills could go the Assam way.
Peace rally at Williamnagar: Several hundred citizens, mostly school and college going students, took out a peace rally at Williamnagar, district headquarters of East Garo Hills, on Tuesday afternoon.
The peace rally was called by a group of NGOs and student bodies like the Indigenous Citizens Forum of Simsanggre (Williamnagar), Garo Students Union, Federation for Achik Freedom, All India Garo Union (AIGU) and members of various commercial vehicle associations.
Leaders from these organisations called upon the militants to abstain from violence and urged for a meaningful dialogue across the table to discuss their demands.
The rally, which saw the participation of several hundred students with banners and placards, also observed two-minute silence for the three policemen who died in the encounter.
The Deputy commissioner of East Garo Hills, Praveen Bakshi, IAS, also appreciated the role of the NGOs in highlighting the issue of militancy and calls for an end to armed struggle.
The participants at the rally later went on a procession through the main thoroughfares of the town holding up banners which had inscriptions like “Do not shed blood” “Do not Kill” “Nobody has the right to take others’ life” and “End Violence and bloodshed”.