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Rebels involved in SP death held

Nagaon, June 10: Ten UPLA militants, including the alleged mastermind of the ambush that killed Hamren superintendent of police Nityananda Goswami last week, were arrested in Nagaland this morning.

The search operation was carried out jointly by Khatkhati police under Bokajan subdivision of Assam’s Karbi Anglong district and Dimapur police following information that the militants were hiding at Arhoimail near Dimapur in Nagaland.

Interrogation of the arrested militants has revealed that the commander-in-chief of United Peoples’ Liberation Army (UPLA), Nikunja Kathar, was the alleged mastermind of last Thursday’s ambush in which Goswami and his PSO Ratul Nunisa died, sources said. Kathar allegedly prepared the roadmap and entrusted the job to the outfit’s foreign secretary Bali Rangfar.

The arrested cadres said Rangfar and UPLA deputy commander-in-chief Lalsingh Teron were part of the ambush. It was also revealed that five of the 10 arrested were part of the ambush.

The rebels said Goswami was shot from very close range. A source in Karbi Anglong police said the militants left Hamren immediately after the ambush and reached Dimapur the next day.

The ambush was allegedly a revenge on Karbi Anglong police for its operations against the fledgling outfit, including dismantling of several of its training camps.

Goswami and his team had dismantled a UPLA training camp in the interior jungles of Hamren, an administrative subdivision in Karbi Anglong district and a police district by itself, just three days before the SP died, sources said.

Depending on the information provided by the arrested cadres, who were brought to Hamren this morning and will be taken to Guwahati for further interrogation, Karbi Anglong police launched a special operation in Hamren at 11 this morning and dismantled a UPLA training camp at Punjpahar in Baithalangsu.

A huge quantity of arms and ammunition, including a rocket launcher, an AK-series rifle, a UMG assault rifle and a .303 rifle were recovered.

Karbi Anglong SP Mugdha Jyoti Mahanta confirmed that the militants were nabbed from Nagaland in a joint raid and that weapons were recovered during the Baithalangsu raid. Hamren SP Debojit Deori was a part of the operations against the militants.

A source in Karbi Anglong police said there are dissimilarities in the confessions of the arrested cadres but some facts like supervision by Kathar and the presence of Rangfar at the ambush site are confirmed.

The arrested rebels said they had no clue that the Hamren SP was there during the ambush or that he was killed.

The sources hoped that interrogation would bring to light all the facts behind the killing of the SP and his PSO.

The Karbi Anglong SP said the UPLA was formed in 2013 under the leadership of Longki Bey to counter the Karbi People’s Liberation Tigers (KPLT). Bey is still at large.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who is facing flak for deteriorating law and order, called a news meet this afternoon to announce the arrest of the UPLA militants and their confession to involvement in the crime. “All aspects of the encounter will be looked into,” he added.

Before briefing the media, he held a law and order review meeting and was briefed by chief secretary Jitesh Khosla. Tomorrow, he will hold a video-conference with all the deputy commissioners and superintendents of police on the law and order situation, sources in the chief minister’s office said.

The CMO sources also said the UPLA had Leftist leaning and was most probably receiving support from Manipur-based militant groups.