Agartala, July 15: The banned National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) is preparing to launch a major offensive in the run-up to the Assembly election next year.
NLFT commander Barnajay Tripura, 32, who surrendered to the special branch (intelligence wing) of the state police, confirmed this yesterday.
Barnajay, who could not deposit any arms as he had fled from the outfit’s camp at Khantlang on North Tripura’s border with the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, said during his interrogation that the outfit was collecting large sums of money for purchasing arms and ammunition and was also conducting a recruitment drive.
Though many NLFT rebels have surrendered over the past few years, the outfit has been able to regroup through fresh recruitment.
“The current leadership of NLFT is totally against surrender. They are working with single-minded determination to mount a fresh offensive before the Assembly elections,” Barnajay said.
Over the past year, the outfit’s chairman, Biswamohan Debbarma, has toured several countries, including Thailand, Singapore and China to seek help for his upcoming “venture”.
Sources said according to disclosures made by Barnajay and surrendered militants Dhanu Koloi, Bishu Koloi and Ratasri Koloi, the outfit is currently using the unfenced stretches on the hilly eastern border of the state with the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh for trans-border movement.
“The NLFT has also carried out a series of attacks on workers and engineers of construction companies like National Projects Construction Corporation Limited and National Building Construction Corporation Limited to prevent construction of fences along the routes used by them for trans-border movement,” a source in the special branch said.
The rebels said the dissolution of their rival group — All Tripura Tiger Force, which was banned in 1997 — has added to the NLFT’s strength as more than 200 former Tiger Force rebels had joined the outfit early this year.
“These people did not surrender like others but got in touch with the NLFT leadership and joined the group,” the source said.
The source added that the outfit was now scouring the international black market for arms and ammunition, following the refusal of other outfits of the Northeast to sell it arms.
“The state government will have to take special security measures to keep the Assembly elections violence-free,” the source said.