Assam elections under shadow of terror

April 9th, 2009 - 11:57 am ICT by IANS  

By Syed Zarir Hussain
Guwahati, April 9 (IANS) The shadow of terror looms large over the elections in Assam with militants striking with a vengeance in the past one week, killing 11 people and wounding up to 100 more in a string of bombings and grenade attacks.

There were four powerful explosions and three grenade attacks Monday in which eight people were killed. Two of the blasts were in Assam’s main city Guwahati.

“The wave of terror attacks would surely scare away people from actively taking part in electioneering and may even force people to keep away from voting,” Akhil Ranjan Dutta, a political analyst and a teacher at Gauhati University, told IANS.

There is a general sense of fear and panic after the serial bombings and grenade attacks Monday in different parts of Assam.

“A sense of insecurity haunts people and the situation is getting even more complicated with political parties politicising the terror attacks for electoral gains,” said Dilip Chandan, editor of Asom Bani, a mass circulation Assamese weekly.

With no other issue of substance raised in this campaign so far, the opposition is going all out against the ruling Congress party over lack of security. Elections to Assam’s 14 Lok Sabha seats are scheduled April 16 and 23.

“The government has no moral right to continue in office and should resign. There is no security and the government has miserably failed,” said Chandra Mohan Patowary, president of the main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP).

The role of the opposition, however, has come under attack from the civil society with views expressed that leaders were simply trying to whip up emotions rather than standing up in the war against terror.

“This is not the time for loose statements and attempts to make political gains. In situations like terror, be it political parties or the civil society, everybody must join hands to counter terror,” said Jatin Borgohain, another political analyst.

But Borgohain did criticise the way Chief minister Tarun Gogoi had handled the situation.

“The chief minister said the state doesn’t have enough security to guard every locality and such other things…. We want the chief minister to be a little more bold in his reactions,” he said.

The Congress, in turn, is asking why no other political party is coming out strongly against the perpetrators of terror.

“Why is the opposition so scared to attack terror groups like the ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) who are involved in the recent attacks? We have not heard a single word from parties like the AGP speaking boldly against the ULFA,” Assam Health Minister and government spokesperson Himanta Biswa Sarma told IANS.

(Syed Zarir Hussain can be contacted at

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