Members of the Bengali Hindu community protest the killings in Tinsukia, Assam.
A day-long shutdown called to protest the killing of five people by a terrorist group two days ago evoked a mixed response in Assam today. It was successful in the Barak Valley region, parts of lower Assam and certain pockets of the Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts.
Five members of the Bengali community, including two of a family, were allegedly killed by the United Liberation Front of Assam's Paresh Baruah faction (ULFA-I) on the banks of the Lohit river at Dhola in Tinsukia district on Thursday evening. However, the group has denied its involvement in the incident.
Assam police have already launched a massive combing operation against the suspected terrorists in and around the district's Sadiya area. Although police are yet to identify the culprits, they have arrested two senior leaders of the ULFA's pro-talk faction — Mrinal Hazarika and Jiten Dutta — in connection with allegedly provocative comments made against the state's Bengali community last month.
The "dawn-to-dusk" shutdown was called by several influential groups, including the All Assam Bengali Youth Students Federation. While it did not impact Guwahati, life was affected in many pockets of upper Assam, lower Assam and hill districts of the state. Barak Valley, which is dominated by Bengali Hindus, came to a complete standstill.
Kamalakhya Deb Purakayakstya, a Congress MLA from Karimganj, was detained for trying to prevent government officials from entering their workplaces.
The ruling Trinamool Congress in Bengal, which has demanded the resignation of Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, will send a delegation to visit the victims' grieving families on Sunday. The team will comprise party leaders Derek O'Brien, Mamata Bala Thakur, Nadimul Haq and Mahua Moitra.
In Kolkata, the state Congress observed a 'black day' to denounce the killings "caused due to the divisive policies of the Assam BJP government" and demand a proper inquiry into the incident. "Both the Assam government and the central government should take steps to ensure the safety and security of Bengalis living in Assam," state Congress president Somen Mitra said.