• Today in History: Assam Bombings of October 30, 2008


    Guwahati: The scars are still fresh among the victims and the families of the deceased of Assam bombings of October 30, 2008. People were busy in their daily routine; markets bustling with activities. And suddenly a blinding sound; chaos, screams, cries ringing the air of Assam as 18 bombs rattled the skies across the state, killing approximately 81 people and injuring nearly 500 people.

    The bombings ripped apart Guwahati, Barpeta Road, Bongaigaon and Kokrajhar. The explosions in Guwahati ripped through Pan Bazar, Fancy Bazar and Ganeshguri, which were crowded with shoppers and office goers. Three blasts occurred in Kokrajhar, with another possible grenade explosion; one in Bongaigaon and two in Barpeta Road. Indian media outlets pointed out that the blasts took place just after the Diwali holidays making the blasts even more unexpected and adding to a toll count. The bomb at Ganeshguri was planted in a car and took place about 100 meters from Chief Minister of Assam Tarun Gogoi’s official residence.

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    In Guwahati, 41 people were killed; in Kokrajhar, 21; and in Barpeta Road, 15. On 2 November, four more succumbed to their injuries here. Three died at Gauhati Medical College Hospital, while another died at the Basistha Army Hospital. Twenty others were also in a critical condition.

    Police officials added that huge amounts of explosives like RDX or other plastic explosives, like C4, have been used as a fire erupted immediately following the blasts. Timers were also speculated to have been used to execute the bombings, which were seen with timing almost to perfection as the blasts took place within a short span of 15 minutes. It was further speculated after investigations were initiated, that motorbikes may have been used. However, Assam police chief RN Mathur also said most of the bombs were "planted in cars." In addition to the immediate casualty toll seven more people succumbed to their injuries overnight.

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    A spontaneous bandh (total shut down), was observed the next day at Kokrajhar on a call given by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the Bajrang Dal, while schools and educational institutions also remained closed in Guwahati. Only a few shops in the capital were opened and vehicular traffic was thin with most people choosing to stay indoors. BJP leader L. K. Advani, who arrived in Assam on the same morning, visited the blast site near the Deputy Commissioner's office, where he also faced a group of angry lawyers who shouted slogans saying "Advani go back." He also visited the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital and met the injured. The Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, who was arrived later in the day, visited Kokrajhar and Barpeta. He also held a high-level meeting at the Lokopriyo Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in the evening. Attendance in commercial areas where offices are located was thin, and in many areas shops and business establishments, particularly those in and around the blast sites remained closed. Few public transports were seen plying on the roads in the morning. The opposition Asom Gana Parishad observed a Black Day with all its leaders and cadres sporting black badges. Lawyers from both Gauhati High Court and the Sessions Court in Guwahati abstained from work and held protests outside the court premises.

    A curfew was again clamped on the worst-hit Ganeshguri in the afternoon after the initial curfew was relaxed the previous evening, as an angry mob braved tight security in the presence of the city SS and went on a rampage. The police then resorted to firing blanks, injuring at least five people in the ensuing melee. The leader of the opposition and former Deputy Prime Minister Advani visited the spot just minutes before the disturbance.

    it has been 13 years but the perpetrators of the serial bombings are yet to get the punishments. Speaking on the issue that marked the darkest hour in the history of Assam, AASU President Dipanka Kumar Nath said, “The culprits of the October 30 serial blasts are yet to be punished. The government must ensure that they are punished. Also, the government must root out insurgency from the State.”

    The AASU leaders said that some families of those who had died in the October 30 blasts and some of the injured people had not received any help from the government. “The government must look into the matter and ensure that these families get the necessary assistance,” he added.

    Ranjan Daimary, NDFB Chief, and 21 others were named as accused in the serial blasts after investigation team nailed their suspicion on the insurgent group of Assam.

    The case which was then taken over by the CBI from the Assam police, began their witch hunt for the perpetrators who were absconding. While seven were absconding including Daimary, three others were believed to have been killed in encounter with security forces. The first charge sheet was filed in 2009, followed by the second and the final one on December 20, 2010.

    Arrested in Bangladesh in December 2009, Daimary was handed over to the Indian authorities the following year. He was later released on interim bail in June 2013 to facilitate his participation in the peace negotiations with his group. The interim bail has been extended several times.

    Daimary and nine others were sentenced to life imprisonment by a special CBI court on Wednesday, January 30, 2019. Since then Daimary has been serving lifer with nine others while peace talks between the insurgent group and the government continues.

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