North-East India is not strange to conflicts. Rather this part of the country has witnessed numerous incidents of violence since long back. Killing and explosions almost became the order of the day for 50 million people of the region. From agitating civil society groups to armed outfits, each and everyone continued trying to justify their voices and actions. Those have taught series of lessions to the habitants of the region, which is adjacent to disturbed countries like Bangladesh and Burma.
But the series of explosions that took place in Assam on October 30 had shaken the psyche and conscience of the people. For the first time, they feel helpless and in-secured. Dances of death gripped the ambience and the citizens of Guwahati went on self-imposing curfew for many hours. After the historic Assam agitation, one witnessed such a deserted Guwahati for the first time. Shops closed, no vehicles with crowd on the roads and unbelievable silence emerged in the fastest growing city of India. Altogether nine blasts rocked Assam killing over 80 and wounding nearly 400. Three explosions took place in the high security and crowded areas of Guwahati including the front of DC court, Kachari (where in fact two deputy commissioners of Kamrup district and Kamrup-Metro sit; and also adjacent to Chief Judicial Magistrate court, Guwahati). Similarly the location of Pan Bazar, where another bomb exploded is very near to Pan Bazar police station. This is also crowded market place. The third one is busy Ganeshguri area. This place is near to the high security Secretariat and Legislative Assembly building and also a market place. Three another blasts took place in Kokrajhar, two in Barpeta and one in Bongaigaon district in lower Assam.
Significantly all the explosions took place within 11.15 to 12.15 a.m. Pinky Pradhan, an Assamese girl living in the national capital narrated her agony after the explosions, ?Sitting at home in Delhi, an inconsolable anger filled me, as I helplessly watched the televised images of charred and mangled bodies, injured and shell shocked people lying all around, sprawling in pool of blood; dismembered body parts and angry people protesting against the failure of the state machinery. Thick smoke covered the city. Metallic skeletal of cars, scooters, lied everywhere. My city, my home, my people, my identity was burning up in inconsolable flames.? The police initially suspected the United Liberation Front of Asom as the sole outfit behind the handiwork. But the banned armed group promptly denied its role in the explosions. Soon the security agencies started fingering at foreign Islamist elements for the violence. The first suspect was put on the Bangladesh based Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI). Another thought of schooling was that HuJI planned and supplied the materials and the local ULFA cadres implemented the heinous acts.
But the Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi went on arguing that the act was masterminded by none other than ULFA cadres. His cabinet colleague Himanta Bishwa Sarma also echoed his version. Sitting in the studio of television channels, Sarma tried to analyze the situation like a social scientist though in vein.
The Assam government spokesperson Sarma was assumedly afraid of pronouncing the words of HuJI. So the young minister tried his best to divert the attention from Islamist terrorists to the insurgent ULFA.
But both Gogoi and Sarma later admitted that ?every act of terrorism perpetrated in the State has its link with Bangladesh?. The incident meanwhile invited condemnation from the UN Secretary General to the US Ambassador to India.
The opposition political parties including Bharatiya Janata Party, Asom Gana Parishad with NCP and CPI had raised voices against the terrorist attacks and also dismissal of the Gogoi government. The AGP president argued that the common man of Assam is against the Gogoi government and hence the government should be dismissed.
Meanwhile, an unknown militant organization named Islamic Security Force-Indian Mujahedeen claimed responsibility for the explosions. Sending an SMS to a Guwahati based satellite television channel the organization also threatened to continue disrupting activities in Assam in the coming days. Mentionable fact is that Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility for explosions that took place in Jaipur, Ahmedabad and New Delhi weeks back.
The students union and civil society groups had already taken various agitational programmes to condemn the incident. In reality Guwahati has turned into a city of protest and demonstrations. If one organises public meetings, the other went on with candle light processions in the streets of Guwahati. If a section preferred for the street corner prayers, other went for comprehensive discussion on the issue of terrorism.
The member of All Assam Students? Union and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad burned and hanged the effigies of the Prime Minister and Home Minister of the country in public. Two general strikes had already observed in the State against the act of violence. The first bandh was called by BJP and its supporting organisations on November 1, which enjoyed spontaneous response from the common people. The second bandh, called by AASU on November 3, also received response in both Brahmaputra and Barak valleys of the state. Incidentally, the PM Dr Manmohan Singh and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi visited Assam during the BJP supported bandh.
Paying visit to the locations and also attending the injured persons in the hospitals, Dr Singh assured that ?whosoever is responsible for the dastardly act?, the government would take effective measures. He also clarified, ?We will not be soft on terror and there will be no compromise on terror.? Earlier attending a meeting by the citizens of Guwahati denounced terrorism and emphasised on reinforcing the peace initiative.
Organised by Asom Nagarik Samaj on November 2, the meeting also condemned the recent group clashes in Darrang and Udalguri districts of the State.
Amazingly, the BJP president LK Advani was the first high profile to visit the locations of Guwahati, where the explosions took place. The Prime Ministerial candidate of BJP, in fact arrived in Guwahati next morning and straight went to the places. He was even ahead of the Chief Minister Gogoi to pay visit to victims in the city. The former Union Home Minister Shri Advani criticised both the central and State governments for not taking effective legal and administrative measures to prevent the infiltration from Bangladesh. He asserted that the UPA government led by Congress lacks both the political will and ability to fight terror. He repeatedly argued the problem of terrorism in Assam had been aggravated by illegal migration and the recent terror attack had an inter link with the illegal Bangladeshi settlers in India. Shri Advani, while claiming that there were 35 million illegal Bangladeshi settlers in India, also asked New Delhi to impose diplomatic pressure on Dhaka to address the serious issue.