Mass grave unearthed in Assam, four bodies extricated

October 1st, 2008 - 1:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, Oct 1 (IANS) Four decomposed bodies of youths who had gone missing earlier this year were extricated from a mass grave in a dense forest in Assam, triggering speculation that they were killed by a rebel group, officials Wednesday said. A police spokesperson said locals over the weekend spotted human limbs protruding out of the ground at the Kakopathar reserve forest in Tinsukia district, about 510 km east of Assam’s main city of Guwahati.

“We exhumed the bodies and all of them were identified by locals as youths who went missing while going to work or were picked up from their homes by unidentified people sometime during January and February this year,” a senior police official said, requesting not to be named.

The youths were identified as Mridul Borpatra Gohain, Birbal Dahotia, Anil Gohain and Swaraj Moran from villages close to Kakopathar.

“Family members of these four youths had earlier filed cases of missing reports in local police stations,” the official said.

Local groups in the area have demanded a probe to find the ‘killers’ of the four youths.

“We want to know who were behind the killing of these four youths,” said Deepanjali Kakati, general secretary of the Moran Mahila Samity, an influential women rights group belonging to the Moran ethnic community.

The Kakopathar reserve was earlier used as a makeshift camp by militants of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

Locals and police are pointing an accusing finger at the ULFA for killing the four youths.

“I cannot rule out the possibility of the ULFA being involved in the mass murder. This area was under the command of Arun Barua, commander of the A company of ULFA’s 28th battalion, although he died in an encounter earlier,” Jiten Dutta, a pro-talk ULFA leader, told IANS.

Dutta was commander of the A and C companies of the ULFA before the two units declared a unilateral ceasefire in June.

“During that time (January and February 2008) I was not in charge of this area and orders for capital punishment were always issued by the ULFA’s central leadership. I am not ruling out the involvement of the ULFA in the killing of these four youths,” Dutta said.

Police have since launched an investigation on the matter, Tinsukia district police chief Prasanta Bhuyan said.

In the early 1990s, army columns stumbled upon mass graves in the adjoining forests of Lakhipathar and Sariapung during Operation Bajrang and recovered more than 30 bodies. The mass graves, discovered at destroyed ULFA camps in the area, showed evidence of executions.

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