Killings on Highway 31

Even in the perspective of the Subcontinent's violent Northeast, which provides such fertile soil for militancy, there must be more than one eyebrow raised at the recent killing and injury of Bhutanese citizens by extremists on Indian soil just south of the border. On 20 and 21 December, a number of Bhutanese buses and cars were fired at indiscriminately by gunmen, leading to the death of 13 and injury of many more. The vehicles were using Highway 31, which is an important transportation artery linking the Northeast's economic hubs like Siliguri and Guwahati. For the Bhutanese, this road also provides a vital link between the country's eastern and western regions.

While it was intriguing that the incidents along Highway 31 did not attract the international media's attention, the killing and maiming of its innocents were painful for Bhutan, a country which rarely sees violence of this kind, and certainly not on this scale. And as troubling for the authorities in Thimphu were the murky reasons behind what seemed to all observers to have been a pre-meditated exercise. In that sense, Thimphu was more surprised than hurt.

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Himal Southasian