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Tripura rebel leader arrested

Agartala, Jan. 23: All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) supremo Ranjit Debbarma was arrested this morning from an area near the Indo-Bangla border under Sidhai police station in Mohanpur subdivision.

The neighbouring country’s police reportedly arrested Debbarma last month from a residential flat in Dhaka’s Mohammedpur area and pushed him into Indian territory today.

He was reportedly grilled by officers of Bangladesh’s intelligence agency, Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI).

Though senior police officers were tightlipped about the arrest, Special Branch sources said Bangladesh Border Guards had informed Sidhai police station officer-in-charge Arun Sarkar about the development, following which the latter led a team to the border and arrested the dreaded militant leader at 11.45 this morning.

Debbarma was alone at the time of his arrest and the whereabouts of his wife and children are not known.

He was subsequently produced in the court of the chief judicial magistrate here and was remanded in jail custody for a day.

He will be produced in court tomorrow.

Official sources said the CID would seek his custody tomorrow for interrogation.

There have been, however, no reactions from the political circles of the state.

During his student days in the late eighties, Debbarma, the son of a CPM gaon pradhan, Krishna Kumar Debbarma, in Esrai area of Sadar (north), had been an activist of the Tribal Students Union (TSU), the CPM’s front among indigenous students, but he deviated from the political path and formed ATTF in 1990 to launch an ethnic struggle.

In 1993, he changed the nomenclature of his outfit from All Tripura Tribal Force (ATTF) to All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) and launched largescale attacks on unarmed non-indigenous people living in mixed-populated areas, killing hundreds innocents.

At one stage, Debbarma and his outfit is reported to have had close ties with the Ulfa.

Even the Interpol had issued a red corner notice against Debbarma, who was responsible for the worst civilian massacres in Sadar (north) and Khowai subdivision of the state.

This continued from 1993 to July 2003. Then ATTF gradually got isolated even from indigenous people because of extortion and other activities. The outfit was also seriously impacted by effective counter-insurgency operations and largescale desertions by cadres.

“His arrest actually means the end of an extremely violent era in Tripura’s insurgency scene,” said a senior Tripura police officer.