TEZPUR: Eight-year-old Arjun was playing in the backyard of his house when he heard the sound of gunshots followed by screams. Soon, he saw a group of armed men in Army fatigues rushing towards his house. He ran for cover and hid behind a haystack. But his parents were not so lucky. Before they could flee, the assailants broke open the door and shot them dead.
About 170 km away at Moitalu Bosti, a woman was breast-feeding her five-month-old daughter when death came calling. A group of gunmen barged into her house and killed her and the infant. The woman’s only son, aged seven, was also not spared. The husband escaped as he was away. Locals, who discovered the bodies, said the gunmen had apparently put the gun barrel inside the infant’s mouth before firing. Mother and daughter died together, the infant found in her arms even in death.
The coordinated attacks in at least five villages of Kokrajhar and Sonitpur on Tuesday were carried out by the Sangbijit faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB). Sangbijit could be living in the shelter of north-eastern outfits in Myanmar and is at large, probably even in India. His assistant Bidai lives along the Bhutan-Assam border and continues to spread terror in Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) and adjacent to Sonitpur.
Relief camps are agog with heartrending stories.
A villager in Dayalpur Nogaon along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border fled the region as reports of Tuesday’s attack reached there within hours. On Wednesday, virtually the entire village ran away as some of the Bodo families fled in another direction. The Bodos were scared that they will be targeted by the adivasis.
Tezpur MP R P Sarmah said the need of the hour was to bridge the gap between communities and put an end to the animosity. “The way out is a strong offensive by Bhutan and India against the militants and vigorous efforts to keep all communities united,” he said.
At the Madhupur relief camp near Dhekiajuli, villagers from Sitapur and Rampur swarmed for protection and warmth. No sooner did these landless cultivators hear of the attack in Batashipur than they fled their villages which are a few kilometres from the foothills of Arunachal.