The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ex-rebels cry foul on rehabilitation
- Dispur package for cadre dubbed a farce

Kokrajhar, March 21: A group of former activists of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) has punctured the hype around Dispur’s rehabilitation plan for surrendered militants.

“We live in miserable conditions with no money to buy even a piece of soap,” surrendered Bodo militant Manik Basumatary, of Taranguri, said.

His complaint was echoed by other former members of the NDFB staying at the police base in the Dimalgaon area of Kokrajhar.

These Bodo youths have been staying there along with former activists of the Ulfa and the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) since their surrender a few months ago.

“The food we are served is not good. We subsist on a diet of plain dal and vegetables day. There is no breakfast or tea and we do not have the money to buy food ourselves,” Suren Basumatary, another ex-NDFB member said.

“We were told that we would be provided with the basic amenities and money, but have got neither. We know the rehabilitation process will take time but our basic requirements should at least be met so that we can live like human beings,” Rakeb Basumatary, hailing from Alupari in Dhubri district, said.

The three are among the 192 former militants sheltered in the Dimalgaon police camp.

“We know they face a lot of difficulties, but we are doing our best. The government has released some funds for their rehabilitation, which is expected to reach us any time,” Kokrajhar superintendent of police V.K. Ramasetti said.

“Moreover, the government has also organised an orientation programme on self-employment for the surrendered militants in Guwahati at the end of the month.

“We wanted to do everything in a systematic manner, like identifying their skills and interests, which will help in the long run,” he added.

Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) executive members, including BTC chief Hagrama Mohilari, Derhasat Basumatary and Dakendra Brahma, visited Dimalgaon on Friday to interact with the former rebels to boost their spirits.

“There are processes and rules for everything. Hence, everything takes time and we need to have patience,” Kampha Borgoyari said.

Praising the surrendered rebels for returning to the mainstream, BTC chief Hagrama Mohilary promised to alleviate their suffering as soon as the funds for the BTC arrived.

Several former rebels said they would like to return to their villages to eke out a living but were afraid of the security forces and their former colleagues.

“Though we now have identity cards issued by police, but we been told that the army does not recognise them and harasses the surrendered rebels,” said one of them.

NDFB finance secretary Nileswar Basumatary surrendered last week along with four other members of the outfit. The number of militants who have surrendered since the Bhutan offensive stands at 554, including 218 from the Ulfa and 335 from the NDFB.

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