Centre apprehends fresh ethnic disturbance in State

GUWAHATI, Nov 28 – The Central government is apprehensive about the possibility of fresh ethnic disturbance in Assam and directed the State government to take effective steps to deal with the situation, particularly in the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts(BTAD) because of widespread kidnappings and extortions by members of the Songbijit faction of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB).

Highly placed sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Assam Tribune that any major ethnic disturbance gives the country a bad name internationally and the ethnic clashes in the BTAD area last year, in which more than a hundred persons were killed, created ripples all around the country with mischief mongers taking full advantage of the situation by using the social media. As the deterioration of the law-and-order situation in the BTAD area has the potential to lead to ethnic disturbance, the Government of India is worried about the situation. In fact, both the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister expressed their concern over the situation in the recently concluded meeting of the head of the police forces of the States.

Sources said that the militants belonging to the NDFB (S) has stepped up activities in the BTAD area, particularly in the areas bordering Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh. According to records available with the police and security agencies, the militants belonging to the outfit were involved in as many as 45 kidnappings within this year and the actual figure may be much more as there are instances when the kidnapped persons paid money to the militants without informing the police.

Sources pointed out that the outfit was involved in some very “high profile” kidnappings, including the abduction of the NHPC general manager AK Agarwala. But in most cases, the kidnapped persons could not be rescued and the only success story of the police being the rescue of NHPC general manager.

What is more disturbing is that the NDFB (S) has been targeting even small time businessmen, petty shopkeepers, etc., and of late, people belonging to a particular community became the major targets of the militants. Sources said that the NDFB (S), which is maintaining cordial relations with the Kamatapur Liberation Organization (KLO) and the United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) and the outfits, launched several joint operations, particularly kidnappings.

On the reports of movement of ultras in Bhutan, sources said that according to information available with the security agencies, movements of small groups were reported. But the militants do not have full fledged camps in Bhutan and only a few transit camps on the side of rivers were noticed.

On the strength of the NDFB (S), sources said that around 60 to 70 members of the outfit are within Assam, while around 50 are with the leader of the outfit IK Songbijit in Myanmar.