In 2008, urban terrorism stalked Assam (Yearender - 19)

December 30th, 2008 - 1:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, Dec 30 (IANS) Nothwithstanding a decline in the number of insurgency-related casualties in 2008, Assam saw the bloodiest face of urban terror with the region remaining the most violent theatre of conflict in India’s northeast.Compared to 439 casualties in 2007, including 286 civilians, the year 2008 witnessed 369 deaths of which 223 were of civilians, 16 security personnel, and 130 rebels. Of the 223 civilians, around 100 were killed in the nine near-simultaneous explosions that rocked the state Oct 30.

For the first time, Assam witnessed a new face of terror with militants targeting crowded marketplaces in towns and cities.

In all there were 50 powerful explosions in Assam - all in urban areas, targeting civilians.

“This is a really dangerous trend with Assam now witnessing a new form of urban terrorism where militants or terrorists are striking innocuous civilian targets to get maximum mileage without really confronting the mighty Indian security forces,” said Nani Gopal Mahanta, coordinator of the Peace and Conflict Studies Department at Gauhati University.

The new face of terror has been greatly motivated and patronized by Islamist terror operators based in Bangladesh - earlier it was the local rebel groups like the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) or the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) that carried out most of the attacks on their own.

Now it is established that the recent wave of bombings in Assam was unleashed by the ULFA and the NDFB in collaboration with terror outfits like the Bangladesh based Harkat-ul-Jehadi-al-Islami (HuJI) - a fact that was revealed in parliament by Home Minister P. Chidambaram.

About seven HuJI terrorists were killed in an encounter in Assam’s Dhubri district - a testimony that such terror operators had penetrated into the state.

The year also saw a systematic pogrom against non-Assamese people, particularly targeting Hindi-speaking migrant workers, although the trend started a few years ago. “The ethnic cleansing of non-indigenous people located in fringe areas is nothing but indiscriminate terrorism bereft of any ideology,” Mahanta said.

The impact of terror on the region’s already beleaguered economy has doubled with investors shying away from setting up businesses in the state coupled with flight of capital.

But amid the gloom, everyone is hoping the new year would usher in an era of hope and peace in this troubled region.

“We hope 2009 would be a year of peace and prosperity,” Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told IANS.

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