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Forces take sting out of outfits

Nagaon, Aug. 25: Continuous operations have weakened the two newly floated militant outfits in Karbi Anglong, United People’s Liberation Army (UPLA) and Karbi Land Protection Force (KLPF), and strongly damaged their organisational set-up in the troubled hill districts of Assam, Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao.

A police source said 31 cadres of the two outfits were arrested and four killed in different encounters since the June 5 killing of Hamren superintendent of police Nityananda Goswami.

In the past 24 hours, a UPLA leader was killed and two KLPF cadres were arrested from two different sites in Karbi Anglong. A huge quantity of arms was seized from the arrested cadres.

The police said UPLA deputy commander-in-chief I. Bathari was killed in Hatikhuli near the Dima Hasao border yesterday.

This morning, a joint team of police and security forces arrested KLPF chairman Dhaniram Teron and the outfit’s general secretary Monuj Teron from a Karbi village, 45km from district headquarters Diphu and seized two AK-56 rifles, a pistol, and two lethod launchers.

UPLA was behind the killing of the senior Assam police officer in an ambush along the Assam-Meghalaya border area. That incident brought to light the floating of the two new militant outfits in the hill district.

According to the police report, till July 25, altogether 14 UPLA cadres were arrested and two killed in encounters.

“There are some smaller groups of not more than 30 in each. Led by former militants, they use the unlisted weapons of the disbanded groups,” said a police source.

The North Cachar Hills Liberation Front laid down arms but 17 breakaway cadres led by Amitabh Hanse did not do so and floated the Karbi People’s Liberation Tiger (KPLT). They launched a mass extortion drive throughout the hill district. Later, most of the KPLT cadres left the group. Recently, five senior KPLT cadres surrendered.

“All this was for extortion. In many cases the same cadres just move from one group to another. Sometimes they take the patronage of outfits active in neighbouring states and launch joint extortion drives which financially benefit the outsider outfit. Our operation in Dimapur on June 7 and the subsequent arrest of 10 UPLA cadres who were behind the killing of Goswami made the point very clear,” said a Karbi Anglong police source.