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The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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A ‘green’ approach to militancy

- Tinsukia police bust Ulfa ‘tree house’ hideout, one rebel killed

Jorhat, Oct. 4: When the whole world harps on eco-friendly strategies and organic choices, why should militants be far behind?

Well, actually they aren’t. They now live close to nature, operate from the heart of dense forests, and live in tree houses made entirely of biodegradable bamboo.

This “green” approach was brought to light when police today busted an Ulfa hideout set high up on a tree in the depths of Tarani reserve forest under Pengari police station in Tinsukia district.

A hardcore cadre of the outfit, Diganta Bora alias Wangli, was killed in the ensuing encounter and a large amount of arms and ammunition, including an AK-81 rifle with two magazines and 25 rounds of ammunition, a mobile handset and some incriminating documents were recovered from the site.

The tree house, which acted as a temporary camp for the Ulfa cadres, even had a bed and cooking facilities.

Tinsukia superintendent of police P.P. Singh said they had earlier heard about Ulfa rebels taking shelter on treetops but it was for the first time they had come upon such a house. He said as the foliage was very thick and the forest floor was submerged owing to the recent floods, the tree house acted as a safe refuge for the rebels.

He said the bamboo house, perched about 25feet up a tree and camouflaged by leaves, had one room with no windows and a single door. A bamboo ladder was used to access the structure, the floor of which was also made of bamboo.

Singh said from the belongings found inside the house, it appeared that about two to three militants were residing in it or had been frequenting the hideout. A few blankets, mosquito nets and clothes, presumably used as bedsheets, and a few utensils were also found.

He said it appeared, however, that most of the cooking was done on the ground as some firewood, some rocks used to create a makeshift stove and some leftovers were found near the tree base.

Additional superintendent of police (headquarters) Jayanti Sarathi Bora, who was part of the team that carried out the operation, said the location of the hideout was strategic, as the forest was dense in the Pengeri area and connected to another forest at Bordumsa bordering Arunachal Pradesh. This allowed the cadres to sneak in and out easily. He said it was suspected that the Ulfa cadres procured food from villages in the surrounding areas.

Bora said there was possibility of more such hideouts inside forests in the district and added that the police would try to locate these.

The police today also rescued abducted Tinsukia businessman Ramesh Agarwalla from Hatigarh in Kakapathar under Tongma police station.

Agarwalla, a grocery shop owner, had been abducted by four armed men from his residence at Rongpuria on the outskirts of Tinsukia town on Tuesday night.

Bora said four members of a local gang involved in the crime had been arrested and the Maruti van used in the crime seized.

All the four accused —kingpin Pranab Gogoi, Jintu Tasa, Buldhar Baruah and Ritupam Gohain — are from Tinsukia district.