After 75 people were killed, the Indian army is scouring Assam and neighbouring regions to hunt down attackers before they escape into Bhutan.
DISPUR – After almost 75 people lost their lives at the hands of rebels earlier this week, India has deployed military helicopters to hunt down tribal fighters in Assam.
While Assam has seen its fair share of bloodshed, the attacks carried out on 23 December have been identified as some of the deadliest carried out in recent years in India’s northeastern state.
According to a military official, military helicopters are carrying out an extensive search operation, combing the nearby jungles and mountains of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in order to track down fighters trying to flee to Bhutan.
The Indian government has announced that more than 5,000 soldiers have been deployed to Assam in response to the attacks.
Acts of violence carried out by ethnic groups have been going on for a long time in northeastern India, especially Assam. A faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, who have been striving to separate from India, are believed to be behind the attacks.
On Tuesday, rebels attacked four villages in the space of an hour, pulling people out of their homes and shooting them dead.
The country was appalled as more than half of the victims were women and children of tea plantation workers from outside the state. While the official body count was 75, Tarun Gogoi, Chief Minister of Assam, said that more bodies were still being discovered.
Moreover, subsequent to the attack, more than 2,000 people had been reported to have fled their homes, according to a state welfare official.
The official said: “More than 2,000 villagers have sought shelter in relief camps. People are of course scared and worried about violence flaring up again.”
Officials believe that the attacks were carried out in retaliation for an offensive that security forces launched against the Bodo faction a month ago that inflicted heavy losses. The group, which lost 40 men and a huge quantity of arms and ammunition, carried out these attacks as it believed that plantation workers were informing law enforcement officials about their movements.
In the wake of these attacks, India’s Home Minister flew out to the state of Assam. He said: “This is an act of terrorism. We are going to be very tough.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi echoed this sentiment by saying: “We have said there will be zero tolerance for terrorism.”
Image Courtesy: Jaskirat Singh Bawa (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jzsinr/5377283770), licensed under Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.