Gruesome Murder of Tribal Leader

Babul Rongmei was killed outside his home in Assam by his rivals.

In today’s video, Community Correspondent Ajit Singh brings to us news of the grim murder of one of Cachar district’s leading politicians. Babul Rongmei, Chairman of the Barak Valley Hill Tribes Development Council was shot dead on the morning of July 10th. His killers, three men of a motorbike, have been identified as having links to the NSCN-K, a militant fraction of the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland.

Ajit Singh tells us, “Babul Rongmei was a reliable and bright leader. He belonged to the Naga community and spent his life working for the empowerment of his people.”

The Barak Valley Hill Tribe Development Council is an autonomous body set up by the Government of Assam. It is allocated an annual budget of 20 crores for the development of minority tribes in the area, and members of this council hold a significant amount of power.

Babul Rongmei and his team came into power after the entire council was dissolved on charges of corruption. Babul had filed a case against some members of this previous council, for which they served six months in prison. Locals believe that it was this conflict that led to his death.

“Although his killers had links with the NSCN-K, many people believe that they were hired by Babul Rongmei’s rivals. The NSCN-K is known to issue warnings against their victims before they harm them. In this case, there was no warning, nothing. It was all out of the blue.”

The Sentinel reports that Babul Rongmei had in fact sought security only weeks before his death, but the District Administration failed to act upon it. “This incident is the first of its kind in Cachar district. Never before has this area witnessed political assassinations. Rivalry among politicians is common, but it has never turned violent. Everybody was taken aback by this incident.” says Ajit Singh.

Ethno-political violence is rampant in the North-East, with the presence of over 200 scheduled tribes scattered all over. These communities, considered a minority in their own homeland, have been fighting for their rights since before independence, and insurgent groups demanding an independent state are on the increase.

“It is very unfortunate that a good man like Babul Rongmei had to fall prey of corrupt people.” says Ajit, “He died young, leaving behind his wife and daughter. The day I shot this video, I couldn’t sleep all night. The horrifying images of his grieving family are stuck in my mind. Why don’t people understand that there are no solutions in inflicting violence? Only through orderly talks and discussions can communal harmony prevail.”

When asked if he feels safe reporting such an incident, Ajit bravely replied, “I do not care about whether I live or die. People must know the truth of what is happening in Assam. Only then can justice prevail. I take full responsibility of my actions, and I am not afraid of the consequences.”

-Rajyashri Goody

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