Five men were shot dead by suspected ULFA terrorists on Thursday in Assam's Tinsukia
The families of five people killed by suspected ULFA terrorists in Assam's Tinsukia district are devastated. Five of those who were made to kneel down and shot from the back in an open field on Thursday night were two brothers. One of them had a two-year-old daughter, Tanisha, who does not know what has happened, but her family says she can sense something has gone wrong in the house.
Avinash Biswas, father of the two-year-old girl, and his brother Anant, 18, toiled in the fields every day to provide for the family that lived in a mud and bamboo home with four small rooms. The father of the two dead men is old and ailing.
After wrapping up their farm work for the day, the two men had returned from the fields and sat down at a tea shop that they ran from a makeshift room on their verandah. Suddenly, several masked men, armed and wearing what looked like battle uniform, came to the shop and told the men to step out.
People familiar with the matter said the armed men took the two brothers — who apparently did not suspect anything at first — across a rusty iron bridge 50 metres home their home. They were told to walk down to a grassy patch just off the road and kneel. By then the two brothers would have realised what was about to happen.
Three others were also shot dead on the same spot. One managed to escape. When the first bullet was fired, Shahadeb Namasudra, 19, fell to the ground in shock. In a flash he made for the bushes and ran as fast as he could in the dark, but he did see the bodies of the five men.
When Mr Namasudra reached home, he was blabbering and incomprehensible, his mother said. It took some time to dawn on the village that they have lost five men.
Shyamala Biswas, who is in her 40s, looked like she was 70 in her grief and pain. She waved to the NDTV team to enter her house and showed the room that Avinash used to live with his wife, Urmila, and daughter Tanisha. From a tattered diary she pulled out a photograph of her son, Avinash, and her brother-in-law, Anant. She held the photo to her chest and wept.
"These people know nothing about the NRC (Assam citizens' list). They don't have TV, they don't hear debates. They are the poorest, yet they pay the price of politics. It must stop," said Nirmal Kanta Seal, leader of the All Assam Bengali Students and Youth Federation.
ULFA has denied it was involved in the killings. "It's a conspiracy to derail the peace process," Anup Chetia, who heads the pro-talks faction of ULFA, told NDTV. "We are not anti-Bengali," he said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has condemned the attack. A delegation of TMC lawmakers will visit Tinsukia on Sunday.
Several Bengali organisations have called a bandh across the state. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Friday described the killings as "an act of cowardice" and announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to family members. Mr Sonowal held "inflammatory statements" by a section of political parties and the media responsible for the attack.