Holding Polls To Ransom

THE wheel has come full circle in Assam in less than two years. After openly canvassing for Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) candidates in the April 1996 elections, militants of the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) have this time decided to target the ruling party with a vengeance. On February 11, at least three militants attacked the AGP vice-president and municipal administration minister Biraj Sarma in the heart of Guwahati, critically injuring him. One of his personal security officers, Dipak Gogoi, was killed and three others injured.

The attack on Sarma came on the same day a CPI(ML) candidate for the Dibrugarh Lok Sabha seat, Anil Kumar Barua, was shot dead from point-blank range even as he stood up to address a meeting in the upper Assam town of Naharkatiya. It is believed that Barua was killed because his party had criticised ULFA’s boycott call.