Unidentified gunmen killed four persons in the curfew-bound Kokrajhar district late on Friday night, taking the death toll in the renewed violence in the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) to 10.
Hours later, the police on Saturday morning arrested Mano Kumar Brahma alias Jaila, a top leader of the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and functionary of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), and recovered two AK-47 rifles, two magazines and 60 rounds of live ammunition from his residence in Kokrajhar town.
Mr. Brahma was produced in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Kokrajhar, which remanded him in police custody for two days.
On August 23, Pradip Kumar Brahma, a sitting BPF legislator from the Kokrajhar (West) constituency, was arrested on the charge of inciting people to burn down villages during the clashes between the Bodos and the Muslims in July-August. He was released on bail. The BPF is the partner of the ruling Congress and is running the BTC.
The arrest of Mr. Mano Kumar Brahma and the recovery of AK-47 rifles and ammunition came a day after the Union Home Ministry shot off an advisory to the State government, asking that all illegal weapons be seized in the BTAD as part of measures to curb violence.
While submitting its action-taken report on the advisory, the State government sought 10 additional companies of the Central forces for launching a special operation to seize all illegal weapons. Furthermore, it ordered the withdrawal of extra security cover to some BTC functionaries. Home Secretary G.D. Tripathi told The Hindu that the security given without the State Security Review Committee’s approval was being withdrawn.
The BPF termed unfortunate the arrest of Mr. Brahma, an executive member of the BTC, and alleged that the rifles were planted by the police team. BTC Deputy Chief Kampa Borgoyari said arms and ammunition were planted by the raiding police team and expressed apprehension that even he could also be framed. There were reports of the police putting several BPF leaders, including BTC functionaries, under surveillance. Mr Borgoyari said the future of the Bodos or the BTC could not be determined by a few police officers or bureaucrats.
On Friday night, unidentified gunmen fired indiscriminately at Jiaguri under Lakhiganj police outpost in Kokrajhar district, killing three members of a family and one of their guests. The family was displaced during the July-August violence and returned recently from a relief camp. The victims were identified as Rupbanu Bibi, 50, her son Ziaul Haque, 10, Amjad Ali, 40, and Naberuddin Sheikh. A minor boy sustained bullet wounds. With these killings, the death toll in the renewed violence in the district has gone up to 10 over the past eight days.