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Cops work to ‘disarm’ BTAD

Guwahati, Nov. 21: Special operations to unearth illegal weapons in BTAD notwithstanding, police and intelligence officials have said the guns in the Bodo belt are unlikely to fall silent for good in the immediate future.

“There appears to be far too many weapons, both sophisticated and local, in the hands of those who were once proclaimed militants and also some others,” an official said.

He said the weapon-holding pattern had also undergone a change over the years. “There was a time when only one group or community had access to weapons but that is no longer the case. Now there are others, too, who wield the gun...They are no more just defending themselves, they are now in a position, in varying degrees, to also go on the offensive, which means ceasefire by any one side will not necessarily guarantee peace because the other can still hit back.”

Eight companies of CRPF have been pressed into action to search for illegal arms but the apparent split in the Ranjan Daimary group of NDFB as borne out by yesterday’s announcement of an “interim national council” headed by chief of Boroland Army (its armed wing) I.K Songbijit has muddied the waters.

“As long as the NDFB (R) was one, there was a hope that there might be some peace because it had declared an unilateral ceasefire, but now the new group is unlikely to abide by it,” the official said.

Inspector-general of police (law and order) S.N. Singh said operations to mop up illegal weapons would be a long-drawn affair. “The operation will continue for a long time as it is not possible to seize illegal arms within a short period of time. It is not targeted against Bodo groups because other groups active in BTAD also possess illegal arms. The special operation is being led by the Kokrajhar superintendent of police under the supervision of additional director-general of police (law and order) and it will be applicable to the neighbouring districts also,” Singh told The Telegraph today.

Security forces on Saturday arrested Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) leader Mono Kumar Brahma and seized two AK-47 rifles from his house. Similarly, seizure of countrymade weapons from the house of a few Muslim youths under Gossaigaon police station in Kokrajhar district indicated that people belonging to other communities are also getting equipped with arms and are on the offensive.

Singh said as all Bodo groups were in peace parleys, their operation would now be against the Songbijit-led new group of NDFB. “According to our information, the new gr-oup comprises 16-20 hardcore members, trained in Myanmar and other countries. Now our offensive will be against the group as it will try to induct new cadres, arm them and spread its tentacles.”

Curfew relaxation

The Kokrajhar district administration today extended the 12-hour curfew relaxation by another three hours. The curfew was initially relaxed from 6am to 6pm and later extended till 9pm, giving much relief to the people who had been facing difficulties since it was clamped last Thursday.

A district-level coordination committee meeting of all security forces was held at Gossaigaon sub-division in Kokrajhar district to discuss the prevailing law and order situation.