Nagaon, May 23: The Bodo Liberation Tigers has been disbanded and its leaders have long traded their guns for pens, but the erstwhile militant group’s violent yet successful campaign for an autonomous administrative council for the Bodo heartland has become the model for a tribal uprising elsewhere.
Security forces deployed in central Assam are bracing for trouble with a fledgling militant organisation that claims to represent the Tiwa tribe announcing another movement for “self rule”. The Tiwa Liberation Tiger Force is only eight months old, though the pace at which the group has been networking suggests it is an old player in the theatre of insurgency.
Intelligence agencies and police confirmed that the militant group had modelled itself on the Bodo Liberation Tigers and adopted its strategy to secure special benefits for the Tiwa tribe under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
The Tiwa population is scattered in Morigaon, Nagaon and Karbi Anglong districts. The tribe was given an autonomous council in the Nineties, but it apparently failed to fulfil the aspirations of the people.
The strength of the Tiwa Liberation Tiger Force came to light a few days ago, when two militants of the group were arrested on the Assam-Meghalaya border area under Jagiroad police station. Morigaon police seized arms, ammunition and explosives from the duo, identified as Moheswar Deuri and Ramcharan Mithi.
Morigaon superintendent of police Rana Bhuyan said the two militants told interrogators that their organisation had struck deals for material and logistical support with other militant groups of the state. The group operates from Hamren subdivision of Karbi Anglong district.
“The police got wind of the activities of the Tiwa group in Morigaon district in November last year and we have since been keeping tabs on it. Deuri and Mithi are the only members of the organisation arrested so far. Based on information provided by them, a few more members of the group have been identified and a joint operation by Morigaon and Karbi Anglong police has been launched to arrest them,” Bhuyan said.
At present, the militant organisation is estimated to have over 300 members. What is more worrying for security forces is the confirmation that the group has acquired a large number of sophisticated weapons.
A source said the Tiwa Liberation Tiger Force had launched an extortion drive in the interior areas of the three districts where it has a presence. “Over 60 residents of Nellie and Ampannai, both in Morigaon district, received demand notes during the last two months.” The police, however, do not have information about demand notes being served on so many people.