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Bodo rebel leaders held in Calcutta hotel

Calcutta/Guwahati, April 30: Two top leaders of the outlawed National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) were today arrested from a hotel in the Park Circus area of Calcutta a few hours before they were due to check out and leave for an undisclosed destination.

The detective department of Calcutta police, which made the arrests, identified the militant leaders as Sunil Brahma and David Waris. Brahma is a former “organising secretary” of the NDFB and in charge of the outfit’s bases in Meghalaya, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Sikkim. His accomplice, who had been operating under the names Bedhung Basumatari, Indra Mohan and P. Butlang, is a “captain” in the outfit’s hierarchy.

Sikkim police had arrested NDFB vice-president Dhiren Boro in Gangtok on January 1.

Brahma and Waris are believed to have come to Calcutta to extort money from companies with business interests in Assam. The duo was found to be in possession of Rs 10 lakh at the time of their arrest.

The police are trying to find out which business houses paid money to the NDFB leaders. “We will compile a list of those who are helping these militants. We have already got some leads and a clear picture will emerge within a few days,” deputy commissioner of police Soumen Mitra, who is in charge of the detective department, said.

The two rebels were produced in a Sealdah court and remanded in police custody till May 6.

An official of the detective department said Brahma and Waris, both hailing from Darrang district of Assam, arrived in the city on an Indian Airlines flight on Monday and checked into a hotel in Park Circus. “They did the rounds of several business houses the next day and collected Rs 10 lakh,” he added.

Mitra said the police had been alerted to the duo’s presence in the city by an intelligence report. “We pressed our network of sources into service immediately and traced their whereabouts.”

A large contingent of officials and constables from the detective department cordoned off the hotel this afternoon, giving Brahma and Waris no room to escape. The duo told interrogators at the police headquarters that they were frequent visitors to the city. Their last visit was a month ago, during which they stayed in two hotels and extorted money from several businessmen.

Khagen Sarma, inspector general of Assam police’s special branch, said in Guwahati that a team of officials would leave for Calcutta tomorrow to interrogate the arrested militants and explore the possibility of bringing them back to the state.

He described the arrests as “a big setback” to the NDFB, which suffered the first blow this year when its vice-president was apprehended in the Sikkim capital.

The outfit’s general secretary, Gobinda Basumatary, had been arrested from Rangiya railway station in Assam two months earlier.

The NDFB has links with the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), which is active in North Bengal.

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