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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 February 2007, 13:03 GMT
Top Assam Congress leader killed
By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

Security personnel  in Guwahati
Violence has escalated in Assam since September
A senior leader of the ruling Congress party in the Indian state of Assam, Abdul Bashar, has been killed by suspected separatists, police say.

Police say suspected United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa) rebels shot Mr Bashar in his home on Thursday morning.

Ulfa returned to violence after talks between their mediators and the central government broke down in September.

Four Congress leaders and activists have been killed since the Ulfa began a policy of targeting the party.


Police say that Mr Bashar died on his way to hospital after being shot in the eastern district of Golaghat.

Hindi speaking migrants leaving Assam
Many Hindi-speaking migrants have fled

Congress party leaders in the area say panic has gripped the party's grass-root level supporters since Ulfa began attacking leaders and local activists last month.

Ulfa said in a recent statement that "for every Ulfa rebel killed in the Indian military operation underway in Assam, one Congress leader or activist will be killed".

In a separate incident, five Hindi speaking migrants, including three women, were injured in Khagrabil village in central Assam on Wednesday night when a family was attacked by nearly 25 locals armed with sharp weapons.

The cause of the attack is not yet known.

'Baseless and motivated'

Meanwhile, Ulfa has repeated its threat to the region's major television channel, North-East Television (NETV), that it should shut down its operations in Assam within a month unless it can prove a story which it broadcast earlier this week.

Map of Assam

The story alleged that Ulfa received 150 million rupees ($3.3m) from the state government to abstain from violence during the Indian National Games, which are due to be held in the state between 9-18 February.

Ulfa spokesperson Rubi Bhuiyan described the story as "baseless and motivated" and said NETV will face "dire consequences" if it fails to prove the story and tries to continue functioning in Assam.

NETV is owned by former central minister of the Congress party, Matang Singh, and his wife Manoranjana.

He hails from the Hindi-speaking state of Bihar but has settled in Assam.

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