Indian police kill major, soldier in botched battle

Himalayan News Service

Guwahati, January 7:

In a counter-insurgency operation that went horribly wrong, police commandos in the northeastern Indian state of Assam shot dead an Indian Army major and a soldier.

An army official said Major Mukesh Chaurasia and a soldier, both in civilian dress, were gunned down yesterday near Nakhongia village in Dibrugarh district, 510 km east of the state capital Guwahati. “It appears to be a clear case of mistaken identity. The commandos thought the two were militants,” military spokesman Major SK Gautam said.

The two dead men belonged to the army’s intelligence wing. Dibrugarh district magistrate Harendra Nath Bora said a group of commandos had laid an ambush at a house. The house owner had reportedly received threats from the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

“The police said there was an encounter between the ULFA and the commandos and the two army personnel probably died in the crossfire,” Bora said. “The police were apparently not aware of the two army personnel present at the site of the encounter.”

The police claimed that they had shot dead two ULFA militants. The claims, however, proved wrong after the identity card of the major was recovered from his pocket. Police officials refused to comment on the incident. The police and the army have launched independent investigations into the bungled operation, in a bid to know what exactly happened. The state is currently under a Unified Command.

The army, police and the paramilitary agencies are all supposed to be working in tandem to counter militancy in Assam.