GUWAHATI: Eight low-intensity blasts, triggered in quick succession by the militants, rocked Assam and Manipur on the Republic Day. No casualties were reported.
The explosions, however, could not dampen the spirit of people, who came out in large numbers to celebrate the occasion. Earlier, several insurgent groups of Assam, Manipur and Meghalaya had jointly appealed to people to boycott the celebration.
In Assam, two blasts were reported from Charaideo district, two from Sivasagar district and one each from Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts, all in eastern Assam where insurgent group United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) has a strong base.
In Charaideo, one of the blasts was triggered near a petrol pump at Angera. The other was triggered at Lengeribor on Assam-Nagaland border. The two blasts in Sivasagar were triggered at Bihubor – one near a petrol pump and the other beside a road.
The blast in Dibrugarh was triggered at Chowkidingi. The rebels planted the bomb at a drain, 500 meters away from the main official function of the district. It went off during the celebration. In neighbouring Tinsukia, the explosion took place near the newly-constructed 9.15km long Dhola-Sadia bridge, which is the country’s longest bridge.
The twin blasts in Manipur were reported from Imphal East district – one in Mantripukhri and another near Manipur College.
Interestingly, ULFA’s self-styled “commander-in-chief” Paresh Baruah had purportedly called up the local media houses in the morning on Thursday to warn what was at hand.
Assam’s director general of police, Mukesh Sahay, said the ULFA triggered the explosions to scare people. “The six low-intensity blasts were triggered in totally-isolated places like paddy fields, ponds etc., to scare people so that they do not attend the functions but they were largely attended everywhere,” Sahay said.
He said patches of Assam’s border with Arunachal and Nagaland in eastern Assam, where the insurgents operate from, were “problem areas”.
“We are all alert. We are maintaining the same level of alertness,” he added.
Condemning the incidents, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal said people across the State stood united for peace and as such, violence could least affect their desire for peace.
“We are united in the fight against terror. By turning up in large numbers across the State to participate in the celebration, people have proved they cannot be cowed down through acts of terror,” he said.
The insurgent outfits, including ULFA, had given a joint call for boycott of R-Day celebrations in the region. They had urged people to stay indoors to ensure a total bandh.
“As the celebration of Republic Day is a stark reminder of colonisation of the region by India, we ought to dissociate ourselves from it…We, the fraternal organisations, have decided that the region should collectively boycott the Indian Republic Day,” the outfits had said in a joint statement.