Nine more bodies were recovered in the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts of Kokrajhar and Baska on Saturday, taking the toll to 32 in the violence unleashed by the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB)-Songbijit militants on Thursday and Friday.
The State government decided to hand over the investigation to the National Investigation Agency.
The nine bodies, four among them of children and two of women, were recovered from Khagrabari in Salbari sub-division adjacent to the Manas National Park in Baksa, official sources said.
The mayhem started on Thursday when heavily armed militants shot dead three members of a family, near the Ananda Bazar area, in the district. On Friday, insurgents opened fire at Balapara-I village in neighbouring Kokrajhar, leaving eight persons dead and several injured.
On Friday night, 12 bullet-riddled bodies, five among them of women and one of a child, were recovered from Nankekhadrabari and Nayanguri in Baksa, where ultras set ablaze nearly 100 houses and a wooden bridge.
The police opened fire in the air after a mob armed with spears and sticks tried to set ablaze a forest range office at Basbari in Baksa on Saturday morning, the sources said. This made hundreds of people flee their homes with some taking shelter in two relief camps.
Of the four BTAD districts of Baksa, Kokrajhar, Udalguri and Chirang, the first two were affected. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi who chaired a Cabinet meeting decided to hand over investigation to the National Investigation Agency to find those responsible for the violence.
“Let the NIA investigate who is involved. No one will be spared if found responsible for the violence,” Mr. Gogoi told presspersons after the meeting here. “I want to coordinate with neighbouring Bhutan as the militants may hide there after committing the crime. If the NIA comes then that can be done,” the Chief Minister said.
The NDFB (Songbijit) has denied its involvement in the violence, claiming it was “a political conspiracy by the Assam government to trigger clashes between two communities.”
A press statement by NDFB Secretary (Information and Publicity Wing) N.E. Esara said: “We ask the Assam government and its officials to stay away from such accusation without the slightest justification.”