Guwahati, July 30: An investigation carried out by Assam police has revealed that the manpower strength of United People’s Liberation Army (UPLA) — a small militant group in Karbi Anglong district — has crossed 100.
The outfit was allegedly involved in the killing of Hamren superintendent of police Nityananda Goswami in June this year.
Sources in Hamren police district said initially they had information that the UPLA, formed in May 2013 to counter another rebel group, Karbi People’s Liberation Tigers (KPLT), had only 25 to 30 cadres.
But during an operation to arrest those involved in the killing of Goswami and his PSO Ratul Nunisa, it came to light that former members of the now disbanded United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) had joined the UPLA, swelling its cadre strength and continuing the terror acts.
Security forces have killed two UPLA cadres and arrested 17 others since Goswami and Nunisa were killed on June 12. “Twelve of the 17 cadres arrested in connection with the case have been found to be former members of the UPDS. Some of the arms recovered from them are those belonging to the UPDS. The group was formed with 17 cadres in May 2013 when they had issued a press statement declaring the birth of the UPLA. But former UPDS cadres who had surrendered following their agreement are joining this group. We are keeping up the pressure on the outfit as these groups have kept the district troubled,” a source said.
Two days after the death of Goswami and Nunisa, security forces had arrested 10 UPLA cadres but its chairman Longki Bey is still at large. The group has sophisticated weapons such as AK-series rifles, universal machine gun and mortars, among others.
The UPDS was disbanded following a tripartite agreement between the Centre, the Assam government and the outfit in December 2010. A total of 568 cadres had laid down arms and agreed to shun violence.
The Karbi Longri NC Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF), another major rebel group, had also surrendered in 2010. But emergence of the KPLT and the UPLA has kept the district disturbed with frequent incidents of abduction and killings.
“Although the group claims they decided to form a new outfit to counter the KPLT, most of its cadres are involved in abductions and extortion. Unlike the UPDS and the KLNLF, they are organisationally not very strong. Our government should take up the issue with former members of the UPDS as they had laid down arms and agreed to shun violence. Besides, the former militants should be properly rehabilitated and motivated to join development work and not another militant group,” a police officer in Hamren said.
Karbi Anglong district has two police districts — one at Diphu, the district headquarters, and the other at Hamren, an administrative subdivision.
On July 21, the police and Red Horns division of the army had arrested two UPLA cadres in West Karbi Anglong.