Monday, February 28, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

ULFA kills Assam minister

GUWAHATI, Feb 27 (UNI, PTI) — The Assam PWD and Forest Minister Mr Nagen Sarma, and four others were killed in a bomb blast detonated by the banned ULFA with a remote controlled device at around 1.55 p.m. near Nalbari today.

As soon as the motorcade approached the college, where he had gone to attend a function, the militants triggered the bomb with a remote controlled device killing all occupants on the spot, the police said.

According to official sources the minister had gone to attend a function of a local college in Nalbari, his assembly constituency.

This is for the first time during the AGP rule that the ULFA militants have killed a minister. The only other minister ever to be killed by the militants was Mr Nagen Neog in 1995.

The remains of the minister are being brought here. The bodies of the killed were badly mutilated.

The minister, after completing an engagement in Nalbari college, had gone to attend another meeting of a local college in the Bahjani area, considered the strongest bastion of the ULFA in the state.

The minister, who is a three-time MLA from the Nalbari constituency, the most volatile of the whole of the state, had gone to his constituency this morning.

He attended a meeting in Nalbari town in the morning and left for the second meeting in Dakhin Kamrup College near Nijbahjani, around 12 km from Nalbari town.

“The vehicle (AS-01-C-9376) was completely damaged due to the blast and bodies were charred badly,’’ said a police official who had visited the spot.

A massive combing operation has been launched to nab the militants who escaped.

State Director-General of Police P.V. Sumant and top police and Army officials have rushed to the spot.

Senior ministers of the Prafulla Mahanta-led Cabinet have also left for Nalbari for an on-the-spot assessment.

The Army’s 21 Mountain Division deployed in the area has despatched explosive detector dogs and sniffer dogs to the area which is believed to be the ULFA stronghold.

Before the escorting security personnel could react, the militants fled after firing heavily at the minister’s convoy.

Army patrolling had been intensified in the area and additional troops had been deployed, the sources said adding the entire area had been cordoned off.

The four other occupants of the car have been identified as the minister’s personal assistant Makhan Borpatra Gohain, personal security officer Havildar Sanat Barua, driver Mantu Deka and a local contractor, Mantu Baruah.

Meanwhile the ULFA in a faxed statement claimed the responsibility of killing Nagen Sharma and four others.

The ULFA publicity secretary Mithinga Daimary termed the minister as a ‘‘traitor’’, but regretted the death of Pranabesh Barua and three others whom they described as innocent persons.



Bandh tomorrow

The ruling Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) today called a 12-hour “Assam bandh” on February 29 to protest against the killing of the minister Nagen Sarma and four others.

“The decision was unanimously taken by the party functionaries following the dastardly killing of Mr Sarma”, AGP publicity secretary Moidul Islam Bora told PTI. The party has also drawn up a plan to observe a seven-day mourning. The Assam Government has declared holiday throughout the state on Monday to mourn the death of the minister.

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