Tribal student leader killed in Assam

Tribal student leader killed in Assam

A police spokesperson said AASAA president Bosco Chermako was killed around 10 a.m. after being shot from close range near Jacobpur in Kokrajhar district of Assam, bordering West Bengal.

"Preliminary reports indicate that two gunmen riding on a motorcycle fired at the AASAA leader using an AK-47 assault rifle from a very close range," a senior police official said. Chermako was on his way to his in-laws' home in a nearby village when the gunmen attacked him.

No militant group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, but police suspects it to be the handiwork of the anti-talk faction of the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).

"The area is a stronghold of the NDFB and there has always been a clash of egos between the outfit and other Adivasi groups residing in the area," the official said. This is the second attack in Assam during the past 24 hours with militants of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) making an abortive assassination attempt on a Congress leader in the eastern district of Tinsukia late Monday.

A police spokesperson said three ULFA militants stormed into the house of senior Congress leader Bhola Shah at Tengapani and fired indiscriminately. Shah was not at home during the attack and the militants tried abducting his son.

"There were no injuries and the kidnapping attempt was foiled as the son managed to give the slip and fled," a police official said.

The anti-talk faction of the ULFA Saturday in an e-mailed statement threatened to attack Congress leaders and warned people against participating in party rallies in the run up to the assembly elections.

The ULFA in the past killed at least a dozen Congress leaders during elections beginning from the 1996 assembly polls. The ULFA statement said the Congress party was responsible for dividing the outfit - luring some leaders into holding peace talks with the government.

The first round of ULFA-government peace talks was held Feb 10 in New Delhi with the process being led by the outfit's chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa. That the ULFA is vertically split was evident with Paresh Baruah terming the peace talks as "unconstitutional" given the fact that Rajkhowa and other seven top leaders were being surrounded by "Indian forces" - meaning the talks were being held under pressure from New Delhi.

But the pro-talk ULFA leadership led by Arabinda Rajkhowa has gone on record, saying the decision to hold talks with the government had the sanction and approval of the ULFA general council.

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