HOMELAND SECURITY: 5 CRPF men die in blast – Ulfa claims responsibility for ambush on bus carrying jawans in Assam’s Goalpara district – the ugly head of violence to threaten the Siliguri Corridor ?!!
BY BIJOY KR SARMA
WITH INPUTS FROM THE TELEGRAPH GUWAHATI BUREAU
Dhubri, July 30: A blast triggered by Ulfa damaged a bus, killing five CRPF jawans and injuring 33 of their colleagues at Bhalukdubi under Goalpara district at 8 this morning.
The explosion comes just five days after an attack on SSB jawans in Chirang district.
Anu Buragohain, who introduced himself as the “spokesperson for Ulfa”, later called up a local TV channel claiming that the blast was carried out in the thickly forested area by the outfit. He said though Ulfa had “remained quiet” for some time, security forces continued to target its cadres and that is why it had retaliated. He warned of more such strikes.
Intelligence sources, however, did not rule out the possibility of some NDFB (anti-talks) militants executing the blast at the behest of Ulfa.
“The precision of the execution certainly points to such a possibility,” a source said.
The bus carrying 45 jawans of the CRPF’s 12 battalion was returning to its Goalpara camp from Balijana, 13km away, where they undergo regular counter-insurgency training.
When the bus entered Bhalukdubi near Kali Mondir, an improvised explosive device (IED) planted on a roadside hill slope, level with the bus window and connected by a wire about three metres away, was triggered by Ulfa militants hiding inside the forest. The left side of the bus was pockmarked by splinters.
Pulak Sen, P.M. Rao, Ranbir Singh and N.B. Salam of the 12 battalion of the CRPF died on the spot.
The superintendent of Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, Ramen Talukdar, said 22 jawans had been brought to the hospital till this evening. Mangal Layak, a jawan, died while he was being shifted to GMCH. Talukdar said the condition of three to four jawans was critical and one Manoranjan Boro had been admitted to the emergency intensive care unit.
Ram Mohan, who sustained shoulder and hand injuries, said they had left for the counter-insurgency training early in the morning.
“I was relaxing inside the bus and chatting with some colleagues. Suddenly, we heard a loud sound and the bus started rattling. For a fraction of a second I could not guess what was happening and saw my colleagues trying to wriggle out of the windows. I, too, did so for survival,” Mohan, who hails from Andhra Pradesh, said.
Honnappa V, who sustained injuries on his right hand and face, said the blast site was covered by a dense forest and so no one initially had an idea about what caused the explosion. “Considering the impact of the blast, it was an IED triggered by militants hiding inside the forest,” he said.
“Some more injured personnel may need to be hospitalised,” Talukdar said.
Eleven jawans were taken to the CRPF camp at Goalpara after they were administered medical aid at the Goalpara Civil Hospital.
Senior police officials, including the superintendent of police, Goalpara, Luise Aind, and commanding officer in-charge, A.K. Singh, rushed to the spot.
A police source said that it was raining when the militants activated the IED and fled into the Bhalukdubi reserve forest which connects Pancharatna and Khutamari reserve forests.
The blast took place on Soulmari-Goalpara PWD road, one of the busiest stretches, 3km from Goalpara town. Vehicles bound for Bongaigaon, Dhubri, the Garo hills and Guwahati have to pass though this road. Soulmari is the point where the road meets NH 37.
Aind said the IED was powerful.“We have collected a 30-metre wire, splinter, residue of explosives and other substances and these are being examined by explosives expert to ascertain the nature of explosive used in the IED,” Aind said.
Security forces have launched an operation against Ulfa in the entire forest area, Aind added.
“I was busy attending to the seriously injured jawans and I am not in a position nor authorised to share information,” Singh said.
Rebel units not keen on talks: PC – so use of similar force and tactics, till they realize otherwise ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
New Delhi, July 30: A faction of Ulfa and another of the NDFB were not ready for talks with the Centre, home minister P. Chidambaram said here in the wake of the blast in Assam’s Goalpara district that killed five CRPF jawans this morning.
Chidambaram was speaking at the monthly presentation of his ministry’s report card today.
The ministry of home affairs has appointed former Intelligence Bureau chief P.C. Haldar as interlocutor for the proposed talks with Ulfa. Haldar is conducting negotiations with the pro-talks factions of the DHD, United Peoples’ Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) and the NDFB, besides the Meghalaya-based Achik National Volunteers Council (ANVC).
“Not all rebel groups have come to the table. One faction of the NDFB and another of Ulfa are against talks,” Chidambaram told reporters. Terming today’s incident as“very sad”, Chidambaram said it was still unclear who perpetrated the attack on the CRPF convoy.
Joint move on NRC, dams – fanning the flames through the youth ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH STAFF REPORTER
Guwahati, July 30: AASU today joined hands with 24 other student organisations to launch a united movement to pressure Dispur into resuming the process of updating the National Register of Citizens, 1951, and stop construction of all mega dams for power generation.
The influential students’ union made the formal announcement of the agitation during a news conference here this evening after a daylong meeting with leaders of 24 other students’ organisations. The Sadou Asam Tribal Sangha, All Bodo Students’ Union, All Rabha Students’ Union, All Mising Students Union, All Assam Moran Students’ Union, Karbi Students’ Union and NC Hills’ Indigenous Forum, among others, will launch the movement.
AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharyya told the media that all the organisations expressed solidarity on the NRC update and movement against construction of mega dams.
He said the government must realise that the NRC updating process cannot be put on hold and if it is not started at the earliest, the state would embrace a major agitation.
Bhattacharyya said a delegation comprising representatives of AASU and 24 students’ organisations would meet the Prime Minister, Union home minister and Assam governor before August 15 to demand their intervention.
He said the meeting also appealed to the All Assam Minority Students’ Union not to vitiate the atmosphere of the state by communalising and politicising the NRC issue. The meet resolved to launch a statewide agitation if Dispur did not stop construction of the Lower Subansiri project.
Bhattacharyya said the organisations would again meet and discuss the issues on August 20 and 21. “The government must concede to our demands before the August 20 meeting,” he said.
Checkpost revival plea to fight vice – crime syndicates haven ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Cooch Behar, July 30: Residents of Gitaldaha have demanded that the abandoned immigration checkpost in the area be reopened to revive the local economy as the facility, once a busy international gateway, has turned into a den of vice.
The checkpost, about 40km from here, in Dinhata subdivision is a gambling den during the day and an illicit liquor joint after nightfall since it was closed down in 2002.
“Day in and day out, the hooligans are using the checkpost building for illegal purposes which has compromised the safety and security of the area. The authorities should immediately renovate the building and resume its operation. The closed checkpost has also affected the economy of the area,” said local gram panchayat pradhan Abdul Majid.
Majid said when the checkpost had been in operation, at least 200-300 travellers used it every day. “The numbers used to rise during Id and Durga Puja when relatives visited each other either by crossing the border. The place was thriving with a number of hotels, eateries and small shops. But since 2002, all of them have either folded up or shifted elsewhere.”
Gitaldah connects Mogulhat in Bangladesh.
Chiranjib Ghosh, the subdivisional officer of Dinhata, said although the reopening of a checkpost depended on the Centre, he would look into the matter. “We have asked police to stop the menace and ensure the safety of the area.”
Panchayat samiti member Lakshmi Prasad Kalwar said the closure of the checkpost forced about 60 per cent of the men to migrate to other states for jobs. “That is not all. People from Dinhata, who want to go to Bangladesh, have to travel 200km to Changrabandha to cross the border that means a waste of time and money.”
The president of the merchants’ association of Dinhata subdivision, Bhabani Shankar Agarwal, said he had written to the Union commerce and industry ministry to allow trade through Gitaldaha. “The Mogulhat market is five kilometres from the border and a healthy trade can be done through the checkpost helping the local economies on both sides of the border thrive,” Agarwal said.
Rustam Ali, who had run an eatery on the border, said he was forced to go to Delhi after the checkpost was closed. “I work in a brick field there and my sons work in a tailoring shop in the capital. The shut down of the border outpost has put me and many others in tremendous hardship,” Ali said.
939 infiltrators held along Indo-Bangla border till June 2010 – and more to come ?!!
From The Hindustan Times
Shillong, July 30, 2010, 21:34 IST: A total of 939 infiltrators have been apprehended along the Indo-Bangladesh border by security personnel this year till June. “Even though there are no significant incidences of infiltration on India’s borders with Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and China, the Indo-Bangladesh border is prone to
infiltration. Till June, about 939 infiltrators were apprehended on the Indo-Bangladesh border while the figure for 2009 was 2460,” an official union home ministry statement said.
On militancy, the statement said, about 121 violent incidents have occurred in Assam so far this year as against 263 in 2009.
Similarly, 183 violent incidents have been triggered by militant groups in Manipur during the current year so far as against 362 in 2009.