|BSF personnel patrol the Indo-Bangladesh border at Dhanpur in Tripura on Monday. (Reuters)
Agartala, Aug. 11: With Independence day four days away, militants of the banned National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) last night abducted two members and workers of Gana Mukti Parishad (GMP) from Jaisingpara ADC village under Gandacherra subdivision, close to the border with the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh.
The GMP is the powerful front organisation of the ruling CPM.
Before leaving with the hostages, the group of six NLFT rebels left a note demanding unpaid “tax” for the past four years with a 10 per cent penalty on the total amount.
A combined force of police and Tripura State Rifles jawans led by the officer-in-charge of Gandacherra police station P.K. Debbarma carried out search operations.
The hostages could not be rescued as the militants are believed to have returned to their hideout across the unfenced part of the border.
The inspector-general (operations), N.C. Das, said the movement of small NLFT groups had been reported from different parts of the hilly Gandacherra, Chhailengta and Kanchanpur subdivisions of Dhalai and North Tripura districts over the past month.
Last night around 10.30pm, a group of six armed militants stormed Jaisingpara ADC village and started looking for two workers of the GMP, Udairam Reang and Juriham Reang who were asleep in their elevated jhum huts close to their fields, within half a kilometre of their residences.
“At this time of the year the shifting cultivators sleep in their elevated huts to protect their jhum crops from animals like the wild boar. Udairam and Juriham were asleep in their huts when the militants abducted them. Their family members rushed to the huts and pleaded with the NLFT rebels to let them off. The militants handed them a letter demanding the unpaid tax and headed towards the border,” said Das.
He said BSF jawans in the nearest outpost have been urged to take up the issue with their Border Guards Bangladesh counterparts in a flag meeting to secure the release of the villagers.
The incident has triggered panic among indigenous villagers living close to the unfenced part of the border as movement of NLFT has intensified over the past few months.
Sources in the special branch (intelligence wing) of state police said over the past one month reports on NLFT’s increased movement had reached the police headquarters.
“According to reports, NLFT has been trying to mobilise funds through extortion and recruit new activists. Our suspicions were confirmed on August 1 when we arrested two hardcore NLFT collaborators — Jyotish Debbarma and Indraram Reang — from their rented house in Krishna Nagar in the heart of Agartala town. They are being interrogated in jail,” a senior official of the special branch said.
He said security would be heavily beefed up in the run-up to the Independence Day celebrations.
The police and paramilitary forces have already been put on high alert.
BSF authorities have been asked to intensify their vigil all along the state’s 856km long border with Bangladesh.