Agartala, Jan. 4: The chief of the banned outfit, All Tripura Tiger Force, Ranjit Debbarma, responsible for the worst civilian carnage in Tripura’s decade-long insurgency between 1993 and 2003, was arrested by officers of Bangladesh military intelligence last Sunday from Mohammedpur in Dhaka.
Confirming this, a source in the special branch (intelligence wing) of state police said on December 30, a group of army intelligence officers of Bangladesh picked up Ranjit Debbarma from his Mohammedpur flat and took him in custody, though the information was not leaked officially.
“Nothing has been admitted officially, but we have authentic information that Ranjit Debbarma is in the custody of the military intelligence of Bangladesh and under sustained interrogation. The information he has parted with is still not clear, but we are keeping a tab through our sources,” an official of the special branch said. He said over the past few years, the Tripura government has furnished a list of militant leaders of the state hiding in Bangladesh to the BSF officials and the authorities in the Union external affairs ministry.
During the recent visit of Bangladesh home minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir to India, Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde handed over the list of names with detailed addresses to him. Alamgir promised action.
A source said Ranjit Debbarma was born in Esrai under Sadar (north) and was a student activist of Tribal Students’ Union till his college days. However, gradually, he strayed from his association with Leftist forces and in 1989, floated Tiger Force as a militant outfit.
“His outfit was responsible for the worst civilian massacres of Tripura between 1993 and 2003, especially in areas under Sadar (north) and Khowai subdivision, largescale abduction and extortion in collaboration with Ulfa of Assam,” an official of the special branch said.
He said since 2003, Tiger Force had started weakening, with exodus of a large number of activists who surrendered with arms and ammunition.
The exodus of non-indigenous Bengalis from the interior areas of the state also deprived the outfit of extortion through abduction, though in the last years the outfit started attacking the people from their own community, thus alienating them in the process.
“During his days in Bangladesh as Tiger Force chief, first in Srimangal and then in Dhaka, Ranjit Debbarma acquired huge properties, including a transport company and a hotel and used to shuttle between his residences in Srimangal and Dhaka till his arrest on December 30. He and his family members have also acquired Bangladesh citizenship,” the special branch official said.
He added that last year a large number of armed Tiger Force activists led by Sachindra Debbarma had joined the National Liberation Front of Tripura to revive insurgency.
In November last year, Ranjit Debbarma’s second in command Chitta Debbarma, surrendered to the state police with half a dozen followers and a huge cache of arms and ammunition.
Sources here said the state government would take up the issue of Ranjit Debbarma’s arrest and his hand-over to the Indian authority, with the home and external affairs ministries.
“We are requesting the Union home and external affairs ministries to initiate discussion with the Bangladesh government to secure push-back of Ranjit Debbarma to the government of Tripura at the earliest,” Tarun Kumar Bardhan, deputy secretary in the department of home affairs, said.