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Assam ultras in soup over EC directive on NBWs
K Anurag in Guwahati | March 25, 2006 18:06 IST
A large number of militants in truce as well as some former militants are in trouble in Assam in view of the Election Commission's directive asking the Assam government to execute over 13,800 pending non-bailable warrants in the run up to the Assembly polls.
Over 100 such NBWs are pending against former militants of the now disbanded Bodo Liberation Tigers. Most of the former BLT rebels are now leaders and members of the Bodo People's Progressive Front, which is now in power in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Council that was formed as a consequence of the peace accord between the BLT, government of India and the government of Assam.
The BPPF faction led by former BLT chief and chief executive member of the BTAD Hagrama Mohilary, dashed off a petition to the EC praying against execution of the non-bailable warrants against those former cadres of the disbanded outfit who are now members of this political party.
Khampha Bargoyari, an executive member of the BTAC, said the state government had, during the signing of the Bodo Accord in 2002, assured that the cases against BLT cadres would be withdrawn.
"Although cases against some of the prominent former BLT leaders were withdrawn to facilitate their participation in the BTAC elections held early in 2005, non-bailable warrants against over 100 members of the BPPF are yet to be withdrawn. In fact, the process was on to withdraw those NBWs when the election was announced," Bargoyari said.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi confirmed that the state cabinet had taken a decision to withdraw pending cases against former BLT cadres and leaders and the matter was now pending before the court.
"We have informed the Election Commission about the latest status on the NBWs against the former militants," Gogoi said in Guwahati Saturday.
The EC directive on the NBWs has posed similar problem to armed militants belonging to two other militant outfits, which are now in ceasefire with government of India and engaged in the peace process. These two groups are Dima Halam Daogah, a Dimasa tribal militant and United People's Democratic Solidarity, a Karbi tribal militant group. Both the outfits are based in the two hill districts of the state.
"Execution of NBWs against our cadres will be a major hurdle in the peace process that is in a nascent state," said Dilip Nunisa, chairman of the DHD that has a strong base in north Cachar Hill district of the state.
The militant leader told the media, "We have signed a ceasefire agreement with the government of India and when the government has permitted us to retain our weapons within specific areas, why should they execute non-bailable warrant against our cadres?"
Official sources said NBWs were pending against over 50 members of the DHD. A similar situation has also occurred in Karbi Anglong hill district, where over 100 members of the UPDS are facing arrest following the EC directive. The district authority in Karbi Anglong has appealed to the UPDS cadres to voluntarily submit themselves to the police stations in order to avoid any major problem.
The number of such persons -- members of militant outfits currently in ceasefire, or former members of rebel outfits which have been disbanded following peace accords -- would not be more than 600, according to a senior official in the Assam police.
"It is not a big issue, unless these persons want to get involved in the election process and actively campaign for parties or individuals," said the police official
The Election Commission maintains that execution of NBWs are necessary for ensuring free and fair Assembly elections in the state. The EC is regularly monitoring the execution of NBWs by the state government.