State-Sponsored Terror Against CPI(ML) Activists in Karbi Anglong

S ince mid-May , the villages of Karbi Anglong are witnessing a spate of systematic terror. A gang of surrendered militants, armed with sophisticated weapons and styling itself as ‘UPDS-Pro-talk’, has unleashed barbaric assaults on CPI(ML) supporters as ‘punishment’ for violating its dictate of voting either for the ASDC(U) candidate Elwin Teron or for the Congress candidate.

The pattern of terror and massacre is truly sadistic. A group of 10-12 fully armed UPDS goons in battle fatigues arrive at a given village usually in the evening and identify CPI(ML) supporters by calling names from a register. Then they order the identified villagers to organise a grand feast with meat and alcohol for the group. After that the victims are asked to lie face-downwards on the ground, where they are beaten and tortured till the feast is ready to eat. After the feast those victims who are still in a position to stand are ordered to sing and dance to entertain the gang. Those who can’t stand are carried away by the fellow villagers. After the ‘cultural show’ is over, the gang leader announces that the UPDS was compelled to take this course of action because the villagers voted for CPI (ML) and defied the order of UPDS who wanted them to vote for Elwin Teron, the ASDC candidate. However there is no punishment for those who voted for the Congress candidate. (Recall that Elwin Teron had joined Congress before contesting on an ASDC(U) ticket). He orders them to resign from CPI(ML) and submit the resignation letter to local ASDC secretary. He warns them not to inform the police or take the injured to hospital, and to bury quickly any one who dies due to the beating. They promise to return to check if their orders have been obeyed.

This gruesome intimidation is followed by a visit by a district leader of ASDC who announces the formation of an ASDC village committee and issues a press release that CPI(ML) supporters have joined the ASDC.

On the night of 9 June, in Amlong village of Hamren district, such an attack was perpetrated, and three CPI(ML) activists, Comrades Vidyasing Kathar, Ramsing Hanse and Joyram Rongphar, were shot dead. Earlier Krishna Rai was killed on 23 May at Durbintila near Jirikinding. More than one hundred have been injured and a number of CPI(ML) offices burnt down. The terror is such that few are willing to speak out. In spite of several protests not a single culprit has been brought to book and this has emboldened the UPDS to carry out more such operations.

The State-sponsored terrorism coupled with the sinister game of killing Karbis by Karbis is part of the ruling class ploy to sabotage the autonomous state movement by dividing the Karbi masses and transforming Karbi Anglong into killing fields. The CPI(M) has called upon the Karbi people to isolate the Congress-BJP agents from within the movement and unite to resist all attacks on the autonomous movement and to advance the autonomous state demand movement to its logical end.

The CPI(ML) held a protest march on 15 June in Dispur, the capital of Assam, in which hundreds of people participated, demanding immediate arrest of the culprits and restoration of normalcy in Karbi Anglong. They demanded that the Central as well as the State government stop patronising the armed outfits. A five-member delegation led by Rubul Sarma and Jayanta Rongpi met the Chief Secretary, Assam in absence of the Chief Minister and handed over a memorandum. Protest programmes were also held at Tinsukia, Borgang and Sonitpur.

In Delhi, a CPI(ML) delegation led by CCMs Kumudini Pati and Prabhat Kumar met the Special Secretary for Home Affairs, demanding that the Centre take steps to ban, disarm and arrest the UPDS(Pro-talk) outfit, punish all officials and police who turned a blind eye to complaints and FIRs, and failed to protect the people and punish the guilty as well as take stern action against the ASDC(U) leaders who are orchestrating such terror.

Meanwhile, far from taking any action against the surrendered militants, there is instead state repression which is targeting innocent citizens in the name of combing operations for terrorists. For instance, on 17 June itself, security forces shot dead one innocent person on the Umrangso-Haflong road in NC Hills, prevemting the public even from claiming the body. The 12-hour Karbi Anglong & N C Hills Bandh called by the CPI(ML) in protest was observed on 18 June which was total and peaceful.

While a month-long mass awareness campaign is to be conducted from 20 June to 20 July, which will also be joined by several cultural activists and youth, students and women’s organisations. A People’s Assembly will be held at Diphu on 7 August.