GUWAHATI: A state legislator in the northeast Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and at least 10 others were killed on Tuesday in an attack by suspected separatist militants, officials said.
The attack follows the end of India’s typically violent general elections on Sunday, as well as state assembly polls in Arunachal Pradesh — which borders China, Myanmar and Bhutan.
Lawmaker Tirong Aboh and some family members were killed when insurgents opened fire on their convoy of vehicles in the Tirap district of the state, police said.
Kiren Rijiju, Indian minister of state of home affairs, confirmed the number of killed to be 11.
“I’m shocked and saddened by the brutal attack and tragic killing of...Tirong Aboh of Arunachal Pradesh, his family including 11 people,” he tweeted.
“Strongest possible action will be taken against those responsible for such dastardly attack,” he added.
A top officer said that reinforcements had been rushed to the area.
As in previous years, the general elections have been rocked by violence.
On May 1 some 15 troops and their driver were killed by Maoist rebels in the western state of Maharashtra.
A grenade attack in Guwahati, capital of the northeastern state of Assam, injured 12 people, officials said.
A local separatist group, the United Liberation Front of Asom, claimed responsibility.
Aboh represented the Khonsa constituency for the National People’s Party (NPP) — allied to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party — and was standing for a new term.
He was travelling from Dibrugarh in neighbouring Assam to Khonsa when the incident took place.
Militants belonging to a faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), one of several separatist groups in the area, are suspected to have carried out the attack after making threats to Aboh.
The faction, known as NSCN (IM), is fighting for the creation of an independent state for the Naga people, an ethnic group living across several northeastern Indian states.
The seven states that make up India’s northeast are home to dozens of tribal groups and guerrilla armies demanding greater autonomy or independence from India.
India blamed another NSCN faction for the killing of 20 soldiers in an attack in neighbouring Manipur state in 2015.
New Delhi responded by saying it launched retaliatory strikes against the group in Myanmar, where a significant Naga population lives.
Myanmar’s government have launched fresh military offensives against the Naga insurgents despite a ceasefire agreement between the militant group and the powerful army.
Maoist guerrillas are, meanwhile, believed to be present in at least 20 Indian states, but most active in Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Maharashtra.
Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2019