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Karbi militants back out of surrender

Jorhat, April 1: Karbi militants who were willing to lay down arms until a couple of weeks ago changed their mind after the carnage in Karbi Anglong, telling the army to put on hold plans to organise a surrender ceremony for them until they avenged the killings by Kuki rebels.

The surrender ceremony was to be held soon.

Over 30 members of the anti-talks faction of the UPDS were in touch with the army and wanted to surrender until the escalation of the conflict in the hilly district.

An army official said the militants announced recently that they would surrender only after taking revenge on the Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA) for killing nearly 40 members of the Karbi community and torching over 50 huts since March 24.

“We had planned everything for the surrender ceremony, but it was stalled by the development,” the officer, a member of the Mariani-based Dah Mountain Division of the army, said.

The Charwa Gunners, whose personnel are engaged in counter-insurgency operations in Karbi Anglong, are credited with seizing over 50 weapons from militants in the last four months.

Yesterday, two militants belonging to the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) surrendered at the Mariani cantonment.

A source in an intelligence agency said the UPDS militants’ refusal to surrender was the harbinger of more violence. “The Karbis will not sit idle after seeing their brothers killed by the Kukis in their land.”

The UPDS vowed to wipe out Kuki militants from the district to avenge the massacre of 39 Karbi tribesmen by the KRA.

Trouble started in Karbi Anglong after the Kukis were given protection by security forces to ferry ginger trucks out of the district.

The Kuki population, which is concentrated in the Singhasan Hills, grows a species of ginger that is in demand for its pungent taste and aroma.

When the UPDS banned the sale of agricultural produce outside the district, the helpless Kuki farmers allegedly enlisted the services of KRA militants from Manipur to fight the Karbi rebels.

Clashes between the tribes have since become a regular affair.

This season, the Kukis were provided security by security forces to ferry ginger on trucks to locations outside the district.

The UPDS militants, who were denied the opportunity to collect “tax”, attacked some Kukis last month. That was the beginning of yet another round of killings.

“As the ginger season is over, the Kukis will be without work soon. Both tribes will then engage in battle,” the source said.

The NSCN (I-M), however, claims to have extracted a promise from the KRA not to attack the Karbi community anymore.

The KRA reportedly gave this assurance to leaders of the NSCN (I-M) during a meeting in Dimapur, Nagaland’s commercial hub, on March 29.

The KRA delegation met NSCN (I-M) functionaries a day after the Naga outfit volunteered to broker peace.

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