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People’s outcry for army post at Ratabari

From Special Correspondent

Silchar, Feb 6: Cross-sections of people living in the bordering areas of south Karimganj and Hailakandi districts in close proximity to the dense forests of Mizoram are being haunted by the spectre of militancy. This phenomenon is not new. In fact, for the last several years, Bru or Reang extremists under the guise of different outfits have created panic among the residents of the vast areas in question. Kidpping, extortions and even mayhems have been a regular feature. In view of the grim situation, the district administrations of both the districts reviewed the developments and impressed upon the state government for setting up of a military camp at Ratabari.

Assam Rifles was deployed which helped in restoring normalcy and confidence in the people living under the shadow of militancy. But, it was a short-lived arrangement. After the withdrawal of the camp, the militants in the prowl got a free hold to renew their forays and started committing all sorts of crimes. Situation is that a number of people, belonging both to Hindu and Muslim communities, were kidpped for ransom. There have been indiscrimite cases of extortions and other heinous crimes. According to local residents, after a break of short period during the deployment of Assam Rifles, it has been a free run for Bru militants for two decades and the sufferings of the people have been beyond description.

The areas worst affected by militancy are Chiragi, Lalgei, Gochra, Kalmagura, Durgapur, Satkeragei, Bhitar Balia, Dullavcherra, Bhaterbond, Dullavcherra tea estate among others. These areas have been the targets for extortions in particular. People still recall how the militants targeted UBI branch at Dullavcherra and made good escape with cash looted. Not long ago, 20 traders, all small, were kidpped. Even margil farmers were not spared. It was after the settlement of ransom money that they were set free.

Shekhar Deb, Samsul Haque, Goni Mia, Babul Biswas, Badri rayan Teli, Harun Munda, Manoranjan Das and some others still shudder to think of their nightmarish experiences while in captivity. When an incident happens, the movement of police or army from a distance becomes difficult due to the bad conditions of roads. The Assam Rifles camp at Ratabari could tackle the mece and people heaved a sigh of relief and could sleep well. During the camp, 10 hardcore rebels were killed in encounter. Many of them retreated into deep jungles.

The frequency of forays and crimil activities in the areas indicates that the Bru militants have again regrouped. They have started extorting money from soft targets, kidppings and even committing physical torture on those who refuse to oblige them. A cause of concern, according to some inhabitants, is the luring of youths on the frontier areas by the rebel groups. These youths are working as their conduits, updating them with the contact numbers of soft targets and also the movement of police and army. Fed up with the rebel activities, people have in chorus demanded all out action against Bru rebels and restoring the army camp at Ratabari.

Though the camp is yet to be set up, the police in coordition with Assam Rifles carried out joint operation on specific feedback about the movement of militants at Gutguti jungles and bbed three of them who were identified as Netajoy Reang, Rajkumar Reang and Moloroy Reang, all in their middle ages. Their interrogations have revealed that they belong to United Democratic Liberation Army (UDLA). Though there was no recovery of any arms and ammunitions from their possession, but their link with UDLA has been more than established. There have been innumerable public complaints against them. The arrest of the trio is a positive development and the panicked inhabitants expect such operations more to keep the militants at bay.

About the author

Ankur Kalita