Silchar/ Nagaon, Dec. 3: Troubled North Cachar Hills teetered on the brink of a fratricidal war with the breakaway Jewel Gorlosa group of the Dima Halam Daogah (DHD) attacking a leader of the parent outfit last night.
Official sources said “lieutenant” Mazran Dimasa from the Dilip Nunisa-led DHD came under attack around 8 pm. He was driving his Maruti Gypsy through the central market of Maibong town, about 60 km from the district headquarters town of Haflong, when the assailants ope-ned fire and wounded him. Mazran’s wife and a civilian were also hit in the firing.
The Nunisa faction has a ceasefire agreement with Delhi and is awaiting a dialogue on its demands, including an autonomous homeland for the Dimasa community.
On the other hand, the Gorlosa group has stepped up its extortion campaign, targeting employees of state and central government offices in the interior areas of the Assam district despite security arrangements being tightened.
The breakaway faction, earlier known as Black Widow, has made inroads into Maibong and Mahur towns and also into areas along the Assam-Nagaland border that were previously strongholds of the parent outfit.
A source in the North Cachar Hills administration said a section of government employees recently received threats from the militant outfit over telephone.
“They have apparently modified their modus operandi by demanding money over the phone instead of issuing extortion notices,” he said, adding that the demands varied from Rs 1 to 3 lakh.
The amounts demanded from employees are referred to as “tax”.
NC Hills superintendent of police Bhakta Bahadur Chetry confirmed that local residents had received a few threatening telephone calls and added that steps were being taken.
“This is a new development. Search operations have been launched to nab the suspects,” Chetry added.
The DHD (J)’s resurgence after lying low for a while was confirmed when its militants gunned down a railway labourer, Ajit Das, on November 29.
On October 6, DHD (J) militants shot dead 11 railway employees working on a gauge conversion project near Lumding.
The parent faction of the DHD has been at the receiving end of its rival’s onslaught after the cadre of the Jewel Gorlosa splinter group enlisted wider swathes of support among the Dimasa population, which was earlier inclined towards the mainstream faction.
The Dilip Nunisa group of the DHD has suffered a few major reverses of late in the ongoing infighting between the rival gangs, losing four of its members. However, it still has around 800 armed activists, now holed up in four peace camps set up for them by the government.
On the other hand, the Jewel Gorlosa faction has been able to beef up its cadre strength from 75 to nearly 200 in the past few months.