Can’t stop militant forays, say police

Policemen pay homage to their colleagues killed in the encounter at Sonari. Picture by Eastern Projections
Guwahati, Feb 1 : A day after Ulfa militants gunned down two policemen in the Sonari police station area, the Sivasagar superintendent of police, Shyam Saikia, today expressed helplessness in preventing militant forays into the district from the adjoining Mon district of Nagaland.
Saikia said the district administration had taken up the issue of Ulfa militants finding shelter in the neighbouring state with its Mon counterpart but to no avail.
“They (the Ulfa militants) are taking shelter in Naga villages, which are dominated by the Khaplang faction of the NSCN and there is little we can do from here unless the Nagaland government takes action,” he said over telephone. Several rounds of discussions have been held with his counterpart in Mon district, he added.
Bansbaripathar Chetiachuk, where the two policemen — assistant sub-inspector Bhimkanta Upadhyay and constable Debojit Borgohain — were killed yesterday, is nearly 2km from the inter-state border. They were gunned down by a group of Ulfa militants who were fleeing from an encounter and came across the two policemen on a motorcycle.
The SP said there was no permanent Ulfa camp in Mon district of Nagaland but the militants use Naga villages as their shelter. “NSCN (K) militants have been providing logistical support like helping the Ulfa cadres find refuge in the villages in the district,” he said.
The police in Mon district have also expressed helplessness since these villages have NSCN (K) cadres and conducting operation in those villages would only complicate matters. The NSCN (K) is currently in ceasefire with the government.
Army sources said Ulfa militants easily cross over to Nagaland after carrying out subversive activities in Assam, especially in Sivasagar district. The group involved in yesterday’s incident did the same.
The pro-peace group of Ulfa today said yesterday’s incident in Sivasagar district could have been averted had the government shown interest in starting the peace dialogue with them. “We still have contacts with various leaders of the anti-talks faction of Ulfa, but they are not willing to join us because we have gone nowhere since we declared a truce in June for lack of interest of the government,” Jiten Dutta, leader of the pro-peace group, said.
Dutta said Rupantor Kakoti, a self-styled sergeant major of the 28 battalion, led the group involved in yesterday’s incident. “Kakoti and others could easily be convinced to join the peace process since these cadres worked with us. But how can we convince them when we ourselves are at a dead end?” he asked.
The pro-peace group announced on January 1 that they had severed ties with the Ulfa leadership and would like to start the peace dialogue with the government on its own. The group, comprising cadres of the Alpha and the Charlie companies of the 28 battalion of Ulfa, declared a unilateral ceasefire in June last year.
Dutta said the group would place a charter of demands to the government on February 1 and decide its further course of action after that. “We will wait for a few days for the government to respond,” he said.