Grief, helplessness for victims of Assam's terror strikes
By Syed Zarir Hussain Jan 22, 2007, 8:58 GMT
Guwahati, Jan 22 (IANS) The mayhem in Assam continues with the state witnessing a wave of terror strikes and bombings. The victims often are ordinary citizens, either a poor cobbler or a petty snacks vendor whose mindless killings have left their families stung with grief and helplessness.
The list of casualties in the latest brutal attacks in the state is a shocking mix, most of them people who sweat it out for a living, barely able to earn two meals a day.
'It is indeed distressing when one makes a close scrutiny of the casualties list. In the last few bombings, you get to see a cobbler being killed or a channa-walla (snacks vendor) losing his life in the barbaric attacks,' a senior Assam police official said.
On Sunday night, an unsuspecting Hindi-speaking cobbler was killed in an explosion at village Bahari in Barpeta district, about 160 km from here. Another vendor died in the same attack.
When 20-year-old Karuna Barman died in an explosion in the heart of Guwahati last week, the loss was unbearable for his family.
Barman, an Assamese working as a commission agent for a financial institution, was the sole breadwinner for his family consisting of his mother and three teenaged siblings.
'My brother will still come back. Where is my brother,' an inconsolable Junmoni, the school-going sister of Barman, cried with her voice choked with emotions.
Similar scenes of woes were witnessed in the households of other victims.
Seven-day-old Bhisma will never ever see his father again. The infant's father Bogadhar Moran, a 38-year-old government official, was shot dead Saturday night near Digboi in eastern Assam.
'My husband died before our baby was able to utter his first words. What explanation do I have when Bhisma grows up and looks for his father,' said Pramilla Moran, the young widow.
There were six separate explosions last week in which eight people were killed and close to 40 injured, all of them innocent civilians, both indigenous Assamese and Hindi-speakers.
The bombings were preceded by a string of raids over Jan 5 to Jan 8 in eastern Assam with separatist guerrillas killing 73 people, 61 of them being poor Hindi-speaking migrant workers.
Authorities have blamed the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) for the attacks. The ULFA denied its involvement in the recent violence. The attacks followed threats by the ULFA asking the migrant workers, most of them from Bihar, to quit Assam on the ground that they were taking away local jobs.
'Panic and fear are the two words that best describes Assam. Such is the panic that people have stopped moving out after dusk fearing of bomb attacks,' said Arun Madhab Bora, a retired government official in the worst-affected Tinsukia in eastern Assam.
The ULFA in a statement denied its involvement in the latest wave of violence and blamed New Delhi for the killings, although it reiterated its demand asking Hindi-speakers to leave the state immediately.
The migrant workers apart, grassroots level members of the ruling Congress party in Assam are equally panicking after the ULFA threatened to target them if a military crackdown against the outfit was not stopped immediately.
Such is the fear that scores of Congress workers in eastern Assam have quit the party after the rebel threats.
'The situation is very bad,' said an active Congress party worker in the eastern Sivasagar district.
A massive counter-insurgency offensive involving some 30,000 army, police, and paramilitary troopers is currently on in the state to hunt down ULFA rebels.
'But it is still physically impossible to prevent violence as one or two rebels carrying a bomb or a grenade can penetrate the security cordon and do the damage. The militants are doing these acts of violence stealthily,' an army commander said.
© 2007 Indo-Asian News Service