ULFA hand suspected; blasts come hours before Chidambaram’s visit
ULFA wanted to demonstrate its presence ahead of VIP visit
NDFB expels its Bangladesh-based leader
Guwahati: Five persons, including a boy and a woman, were killed and about 50 injured as serial blasts rocked the city on New Year’s Day. Police see the hand of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) in the blasts, which occurred hours before Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram arrived in the city.
The first blast occurred at 2.55 p.m. when an improvised explosive device planted in a municipal garbage bin at Birubari went off. This was followed by another blast at 5.30 p.m. at a temporary vegetable market in the Bhutnath locality. A cycle bomb was used here. The third blast occurred at 5.55 p.m. near the Bhangagarh flyover close to a shopping mall along the busy G.S. Road. Fire broke out at the blast site, which was soon doused by fire tenders. Police suspect that the bomb was planted on an electric transformer.
Bhutnath is on the route Mr. Chidambaram was to have taken from the airport.
The injured were rushed to the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), the Assam Medical College and Hospital and a private hospital.
Director-General of Police G.M. Srivastav told The Hindu: “We had information that some cadres of the ULFA’s 709 battalion have entered the city to trigger blasts and we were hot on their trail. Under pressure in the form of stepped-up security, they dumped one bomb at a garbage bin in Birubari locality.”
The DGP said the ULFA wanted to demonstrate its presence ahead of Mr. Chidambaram’s visit.
Thursday’s blasts came after the A and C Companies of the ULFA’s 28 Battalion declared the formation of the ULFA (pro-talk) faction and dropped the demand for “Assam’s sovereignty,” and sought political dialogue on their demand for “total autonomy for Assam.”
Earlier, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, when asked whether a dialogue would be initiated with the two ULFA companies which declared a unilateral ceasefire, told reporters that the cadres of the two pro-talk groups were in camps but the government was not keen on holding talks with one faction and wanted everybody in the outfit to come forward.
In another development, the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) expelled the outfit’s Bangladesh-based leader D.R. Nabla for alleged involvement in the October 30, 2008 serial blasts. In a press statement issued in Kokrajhar, the newly elected president, B. Sungthgra, said “the NDFB will not have any sort of link with Mr. Nabla and his accomplices.”
“We are shocked and surprised that Mr. D.R. Nabla alias Ranjan Daimary, as per the statement of Ajay Basumatary, who has been recently arrested along with three others in Goalpara district, is proved to be directly involved in a series of bomb blasts in Assam on October 30 where many innocent civilians were brutally killed without any reason. The killing was inhuman and unfortunate which reveals nothing but his love for sadism. He not only committed crimes against humanity but also violated the ceasefire which he himself declared unilaterally on October 8, 2004. The act is undoubtedly an act of terrorism and can never be part of revolutionary struggle,” the NDFB statement said.
The expulsion came a day after the ceasefire between the NDFB and the Centre expired.
PM condemns blasts
PTI reports from New Delhi:
Condemning the blasts in Guwahati, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the government would root out terrorism, taking the recent anti-terror measures to their logical conclusion.
‘Matter of concern’
Special Correspondent reports from New Delhi:
Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani condemned the blasts and said it was a matter of concern that the explosions occurred shortly before Mr. Chidambaram arrived in the city.
The BJP leader said it was well-known that there were groups in Bangladesh that were behind terrorist activities in Assam. He expressed the hope that with Sheikh Hasina taking charge, ties between India and Bangladesh would improve.