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News channels join noble mission after militant’s massacre
Nava Thakuria Senior Journalist
News channels join noble mission after militant’s massacre
PHOTO : Sonitpur : NH-52 blocked to protest against Assam violence. TIWN / IANS

Amidst all the allegations against Assam based private news channels that those beam only negative and inflammable reports in the time of crisis, the channel managements took up a noble mission to help the affected families of militants’ massacre in various remote parts of the State. Digesting the persistent criticisms from the viewers, the northeast India based regional news channels not only appealed for generous public supports, but also took initiatives to distribute the relief materials among the inmates of nearly 80 relief camps.

Assam received international media headlines, of course for wrong reasons, once again during the last week of 2014, when the heavily armed militants targeted Adivasi settlers in western and northern parts of the State. The militants belonged to the breakaway faction of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) attacked the unarmed villagers, mostly Christians, in five places simultaneously on December 23 evening.

The Adivasi people, mostly hailed from central Indian provinces, were brought to Assam for extensive labour-works and they have faced a series of attacks by the tribal militants time to time in Bodo dominated Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts.

The State police suspect it’s a handiwork of the banned NDFB faction led by Songbijit Ingti Kathar, which opposes any peace talk with the Union government in New Delhi. The brutal outfit, which wants an independent homeland for Bodo people out of India, understandably grew enmity towards the non-Bodo families residing in their proposed territory.

Not less than  75 persons including women and minor children, most of whom were preparing for the Holy Christmas, were killed in the militants’ indiscriminate firings in Sonitpur, Kokrajhar and Chirang districts of Assam, where as few died in police firing and retaliatory actions. The miscreants also set on fire over 450 houses and 50 market shades in the affected areas.

President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi with many other separately condemned the incident of mass killing in Assam.

Prime Minister Modi, who twitted as ‘our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased’, also sanctioned ex-gratia of rupees two lakhs to each victim family and rupees 50,000 to the seriously injured persons.

The Union home minister, who took time to visit some affected areas, asserted that the killing innocent people for any cause cannot be justified. Singh reiterated the attitude of New Delhi for not going soft against the militants who can indiscriminately kill the baby and mother together. Following Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s proposal, the Union government directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe into the matter. Assam government also announced financial supports to the victim families.

Assam police chief Khagen Sarma, while talking to the media persons, admitted that his department had the inputs of probable attacks by the NDFB (Songbijit) cadres to retaliate the loss of many cadres in recent encounters with the security forces. The outfit even issued a press statement recently to warn the government authorities against the ongoing counter-insurgency operations targeting their cadres.

The Army personnel have already intensified the counter-insurgency operation along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh as well as India-Bhutan international border areas following the Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag’s visit to the State. General Suhag had discussed with high level Army officers on duty in the region and also reviewed the deployment of 66 Army columns in the disturbed areas.

Meanwhile, the State police have detained over 50 persons from the Sonitpur, Kokrajhar, Chirang and Udalguri districts suspecting their roles in the arson and violence. The authority also relaxed the curfew imposed in various localities of the affected districts, as the violence hit areas were limping back to almost normalcy.

The violence has however rendered nearly one lakh people homeless and most of these underprivileged families are now taking shelter in the makeshift camps. But the lack of essential commodities like drinking water, food and warm clothes for the cold nights of December was also reported from the ground.

Understanding the gravity of the situation, the privately owned satellite news channels of Assam including DY365, NewsLive, NewsTimeAssam, PragNews (in association with GLP Social Circle) took the initiative to  collect various useful materials from the conscious citizens and also distributed among the inmates of the relief camps.

Assamese daily newspaper Amar Asom also extended its support to the noble cause publishing the name of the contributors in a meticulous way.

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