The house of a Bodo villager set ablaze by tribals in Assam's Balidaga, in retaliation to the attacks by the NDFB (S). (Press Trust of India)
On December 19 - three days before Bodo terrorists struck in Assam last month, killing at least 80 people in three districts - a peace proposal came from the terrorists. The callers were none other than Bidai and Baitha - the commander and deputy commander of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Songojit).
A senior home ministry officer went home brooding that night. "Something was out of place," he told NDTV.
The Assam Police, who received the terrorists' call, said Bidai and Batha were suing for peace like other factions of the NDFB, which were in talks with New Delhi.
"I had nagging feeling that Assam Police was being misled. The army had taken out a few Bodo cadres but that wasn't reason enough for them to sue for peace," he said.
A day before, the army had busted a major hideout of the NDFB(S), killing two of its cadres and seizing a cache of weapons. The official asked the Assam Police to be "extremely cautious" with the peace proposal.
Three days later, on the evening of December 23, the militants struck across three districts of Assam -- Sonitpur, Chirang and Kokrajhar - leaving over 80 people dead. Bidai and Baitha were men who ordered the attack. The Assam police even heard them give the order. (Read: Kill, said the Militant Commander. Despite Intercept, Assam was Unguarded
Now, nearly three weeks after the massacre and the arrest of over 30 NDFB(S) terrorists, the ministry of believes the peace proposal was just a ploy to buy time - so the terrorists could slip off undetected to neighbouring Meghalaya and Bhutan.
The massacre was aimed to trigger riots between the Adivasis and the Bodos across Assam and keep the forces busy controlling riots. "Had there been riots, the forces, including the Indian Army, would have been busy and the heat would be away from the NDFB(S)," the official told NDTV.
Several of the arrested NDFB(S) cadres also allegedly admitted as much.
The house burning by angry adivasi youths in the days following the massacre had almost convinced them that their ploy was working, he added.