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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Will peace return to Hailakandi?

SILCHAR, Oct 1: The most pressing question which is making rounds among the people living in the extreme south-east areas of Hailakandi district, bordering Mizoram and Tripura, in the wake of the arrest of United Democratic Liberation Army (UDLA) commander-in-chief Dhananjoy Reang is: Will peace return to Hailakandi?

The areas in question have been hit by insurgency for more than a decade. The inaccessible hilly and rough terrain of Gharmoora with escape routes to the two jungle-infested neighbouring States have been the safe heaven for Bru or Reang militants. Tripura-based Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) and Bru Liberation Front of Mizoram (BLFM), now in peace accords with Mizoram Government, used to make frequent forays for kidnapping and extortion and even for killing people.

Disgruntled Bru leaders and cadres, among them, floated United Liberation Front of Barak Valley (ULFBV) led by Panchuram Reang, and unleashed a reign of terror in the Jamira, Bhairobi, Gharmoora and Katlicherra areas. The outfit went for a kidnapping and extortion spree targeting bamboo traders as well as sundry businessmen. After several contacts by Congress leaders with Panchuram Reang, the latter agreed to lay down arms with his cadres on September 20, 2008. The ULFBV supremo now heads the State Tribal Welfare Unit of the district. But another group of Brus preferred to live with guns under the banner of UDLA led by Dhananjoy Reang. Its modus operandi was not in any way different from ULFBV. The security circles of the disturbed district were greatly relieved when news came from Mizoram that Dhananjoy Reang was in the dragnet of Kolasib Police. He was on an arms mission along with his two associates, including his wife Sushila, in that State last week. He was first grilled by the Mizoram Police during which he said he was in Kolasib for the treatment of his wife which turned out to be false. On further interrogation, he revealed that he was on an arms mission to bolster the gun power of his outfit.

Dhananjoy, later on, was handed over to Hailakandi Police for further investigation. He was produced before the CJM Court at Hailakandi on Tuesday and Judge Chandan Das ordered a police remand of seven days for him. District SP Vibekananda Das, while briefing newspersons, said the 28-year old Dhananjoy used to frequent Kolasib for procuring arms and ammunition. “With the arrest of Dhananjoy, the very backbone of UDLA has been broken”, Das added.

The arrest of Dhananjoy and his interrogation has again brought Mizoram into focus. Why do extremist groups turn to the most peaceful State for arms? In fact, according to the Assam Rifles and National Investigation Agency (NIA), the 1,663-km long porous border of India with Myanmar has “emerged as a new terror corridor”. This route, besides Manipur, is through Mizoram. Arms from Thailand and Cambodia are first shipped to Myanmar’s Arakan Forest areas and then brought to Mizoram.

The Assam Rifles and NIA have information that China is the main conduit for arms from its Yunnan province which are transported to Thailand and Myanmar. With such easy flow and availability of sophisticated arms and ammunition through Mizoram, it is difficult to predict whether militancy in Hailakandi would end soon. Meanwhile, there is information that with the arrest of Dhananjoy, his elder brother Shishumani Reang has taken control of UDLA. THE SENTINEL

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