The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Back with gun in a new role
- 1000 ex-BLT cadre to join paramilitary

Kokrajhar, Sept. 2: Once recruited to wage war against the state, as many as 1,000 erstwhile militants of the disbanded Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) will soon be on the other side of the fence as members of paramilitary forces.

The Union home ministry has given the green signal to the Assam government and the Bodoland administration for the appointments in accordance with the defunct BLT’s agreement with Delhi and Dispur.

The tripartite pact was signed on February 10, 2003.

Former militants are to be inducted into the state police force, too. A senior official said the Tarun Gogoi government had asked the Bodoland administration to submit a list of prospective candidates to the inspector-general of police (Special Branch).

A batch of ex-militants — 125 from Kokrajhar and Chirang districts and 75 each from Bagsa and Udalguri districts — is already employed as special police officers.

Of the 1,000 paramilitary jobs reserved for former BLT members, 550 are in the Central Reserve Police Force, 300 in the Border Security Force and 150 in the Assam Rifles.

The appointments are subject to the candidates meeting physical fitness standards and other requirements. “Hopefully, they are fit and strong enough to go through,” a senior official said.

Since laying down arms, all former BLT members have been getting a monthly stipend of Rs 2,000 each.

The official said their induction into the police and paramilitary forces would serve two purposes.

“Apart from being gainfully employed, they won’t have to worry about security.”

Executive member of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and former BLT secretary-general Derhasat Basumatary said employment would give the former militants a sense of purpose.

“We are happy that the government has fulfilled its promise. I am sure the boys will do extremely well in serving the country,” he said.

Jana Mohan Mushahary, president of the Ex-BLT Welfare Society, echoed him. “We are preparing a list of surrendered BLT members for recruitment and it will be finalised in consultation with BTC chief Hagrama Mohilary, who is also the former BLT chairman,” he said.

Mushahary said some of the prospective candidates may have crossed the age limit for recruitment, but the Bodoland administration would appeal to the Union home ministry to make an exception.

“Otherwise, they fit the bill,” he said.

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