05/26/2007, 00.00
INDIA
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Assam: ULFA militants kill again

by Nirmala Carvalho
Members of the United Liberation Front of Assam kill Rohini Gogoi, a teacher in a Hindi-language school. The group has been fighting for an independent Assam since 1979. In the last few months it has killed more than 70 Hindi-speaking migrants.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Militants from the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) yesterday shot dead a school teacher in Assam's Tinsukia District. One of them however was caught by local residents and lynched.
Rohini Gogoi, a teacher at the Hindi-language High School in Koilashpur, was on his way to work when two armed youths stopped him, said something and shot him dead. He lived in Tinali Nagaon with his wife and four-year daughter.
“Everything happened in a flash. The students were in the middle of a prayer session when we heard the pistol shots,” said one of Gogoi’s colleagues who witnessed the crime.
Although police have yet to determine why ULFA targeted Gogoi, there is speculation in the area that he might have been targeted for refusing to do work for the group.
Police Superintendent Amitav Sinha said that ULFA has frequently resorted to violence, and has “retaliated whenever it faced resistance.” It “has offered rewards and cash to people who kill Hindi-speaking people, but now locals are resisting” and this has led the group to execute those who refuse to do their bidding.
Fr Tom Mangattuthazhe is involved in promoting peace initiatives in Assam. He spoke to AsiaNews about the incident.
“Although the motive for the school teacher Rohini Gogoi being shot at point blank range is still not clear, the fact remains that the terror tactics used by the militants have caused great fear among civilians. ULFA is now seen by most people as a desperate group that will go to any length to continue its terror campaign.”
“It is a struggle for people who are caught up between security forces and militants,” he said. “In Hyderabad and Mumbai people in civil society groups faced similar incidents, but they worked day and night to prevent the escalation of violence. But here, in the North-East, illiteracy and unresolved social problems which the government must deal with have prevented such a reaction.”
For the clergyman, the “police must also rethink their approach. They go around with sophisticated weapons, but cannot catch the militants. People have had to give shelter to the militants out of fear, but more and more are unwilling to do so. The murdered teacher was one of them. And as revulsion for crimes like this one grows people will want to isolate ULFA militants and work for peace.”
Since 1979 the Indian state of Assam has been racked by sectarian strife. Groups like ULFA have been fighting for an independent Assam. A truce between the group and the Indian government that had lasted six weeks was broken last September. Since then some 70 Hindi-speaking migrants have been killed across the state in violent operations carried out by ULFA.
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