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Cops target NDFB ‘headhunters’

Guwahati, Dec. 25: Police have launched a special operation in Assam’s north bank districts, particularly Udalguri and Sonitpur, to target the “headhunters” of the NDFB’s anti-talks faction who have been recruiting youths from these areas.

“We have specific information about some of the middle-ranking cadres of the outfit being on a recruitment drive and operations are on to neutralise them,” a police official said.

As part of the operations, two militants of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) were killed in the wee hours today and three yesterday, although the main targets managed to slip away, the official said. Today’s encounter took place at Maninajuli Paharpur under Rangapara police station in Sonitpur. Two pistols and ammunition were recovered from the two militants.

The official said most of the NDFB militants killed recently could not be identified immediately, which indicated that they were new recruits.

He claimed that the Ranjan Daimary-led anti-talks faction of the NDFB had received a severe jolt in the last few months with security forces going all out against it. “The success in our operations in the last few months against the NDFB was a big blow for the outfit. It has lost several armed wing cadres who were capable of carrying out major attacks.”

The NDFB has lost more than 40 cadres in encounters in the two north bank districts and the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) since June.

The spate of killings triggered protests from various Bodo organisations who termed these as fake encounters in which innocent youths were killed in cold blood.

The official said the outfit had started a recruitment drive recently to recover lost ground. “At least 30 youths have joined the NDFB in the past month.…They are promised money which rarely comes, but it is too late by that time,” he said.

“Recruitment is done in a co-ordinated manner. A few cadres are entrusted with this responsibility and assigned areas where each would work. We can deal a blow to the outfit if we can get these headhunters,” he added.

The security forces went all out against the NDFB after its involvement in last year’s October 30 blasts came to light. Several of its cadres, believed to have been involved in the blasts, have been apprehended since.

The official said most of the fresh recruits from Sonitpur belonged to Bodo families who had migrated from the BTAD and settled in reserve forest areas in the past decade. “It is very difficult to identify these families since they have encroached upon reserve forest lands and have no permanent addresses,” he added.

In fact, the blast which killed a colonel on the Missamari-Arunachal Pradesh road in Sonitpur a few months back was triggered from near the house of a Bodo family, who had settled on reserve forest land. The family fled soon after the blast.

A major setback for the NDFB was the killing of Gandhi, a cadre believed to be the right-hand man of Ranjan Daimary, sources said. He was killed in an encounter at Gogamukh in Dhemaji district a couple of months back.

Despite the security forces’ claims of success, the NDFB has managed to carry out a few deadly strikes, all in Sonitpur. It massacred 10 persons in Bhimajuli village in October and triggered a blast at Missamari market last month.

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