Forty Years Ago, February 29, 1980: Hostage Crisis

Bogota Dominican Republic hostage crisis, C P N Singh UP governor, CPIM Assam, Forty years ago Express

Express front page, February 29, 1980. (Express archive)

Gunfire broke out shortly before afternoon at the Dominican Republic’s embassy in Bogota, where 60 persons, including at least 16 ambassadors, were being held hostage by leftist guerillas. The guerillas took the embassy during a diplomatic reception. An Associated Press newsman who called the embassy and talked with a guerilla who identied himself as commander number one said that government snipers had opened fire on the embassy. The reporter could hear the gunfire. The guerilla spokesman said the attackers were still awaiting a sign of willingness on the part of the Colombian government to meet their demands which include $50 million in ransom, freedom for 311 political prisoners, withdrawal of hundreds of police and soldiers around the embassy and safe passage out of Colombia.

New UP Governor

C P N Singh, the new governor of Uttar Pradesh, told his first press conference that the restoration of law and order would be his first priority. The governor promised that it would be his endeavour to make the lives of people in general and housewives in particular easier by ensuring them security of life and property and making essential commodities available. The 79-year-old governor was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Justice Satish Chandra, chief justice of the Allahabad High Court, at Raj Bhavan.

Left In Assam

While wall slogans like “CPI, CPM quit Assam” are not ubiquitous as yet, it is generally accepted that the current movement has spoiled the CPM’s broth. Having been branded as a party of “militant Bengali nationalism”, the CPM is organisationally paralysed. “The CPM citadel is entirely shattered and all its leaders have gone into self-exile”, says a triumphant looking Nibaran Bora, chairman of the Purbanchaliya Loka Parishad, one of the two major regional parties that have emerged in Assam.