The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hunt for runaway rebels in Nagaland
- Assam Rifles combs suspected Ulfa hideouts

Kohima, Jan. 5: Assam Rifles teams have fanned out into the interiors of Nagaland to trace Ulfa militants suspected to have sneaked into the state after being forced to flee their hideouts in Bhutan.

Intelligence reports say Ulfa militants are regrouping in Mon district, bordering Assam, with logistical support from the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang).

A senior Assam Rifles official today said as many as 30 teams had been dispatched to the areas where groups of Ulfa rebels were suspected to be hiding since fleeing from Bhutan.

“We are focusing on Peren and Mon, based on reports from Assam police and intelligence agencies.”

The Assam Rifles official, however, clarified that there was no confirmation of the Ulfa choosing either of these districts to set up new hideouts. “We have not arrested a single Ulfa militant since the combing operation was launched.”

Security forces are on maximum alert in Upper Assam, too, with intelligence reports warning of reprisal by the banned militant group after a series of reverses in Bhutan.

Ulfa hitman Debojit Konwar is believed to be in charge of the group’s camps in Mon, where tension has increased because of a dispute between the Chang and Konyak communities over a tribal student conference slated for tomorrow.

The Chang tribe does not want the Tobu Area Students’ Union conference to be held in Tobu town.

Leaders of the Tuensang-Mon People’s Organisation and the Konyak Union are camping in Tobu to defuse the tension.

Tobu lies between the strongholds of the NSCN (Isak-Muivah) and the rival NSCN (K). A tribal feud in this area could mean more factional clashes in Mon district, bordering Myanmar.

On reports that Indian security forces are complementing Myanmar’s offensive against militant groups of the Northeast, the Assam Rifles official said no such step had been initiated. “Nothing of the sort is happening on this side of the border,” he said.

NSCN (K) “home secretary” Ngaimong told The Telegraph yesterday from one of the militant camps in the Patkai mountain range of Myanmar that a platoon of the Myanmar army was advancing towards the outfit’s headquarters in the Tenup Tephak Joku Valley.

“We have so far managed to push back the advancing army on several occasions and are prepared to do the same if they attack our council headquarters,” he said.

The rebel leader claimed that the military offensive against the group was at the behest of the Indian army. Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat had visited Yangon in the first week of November.

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