DHD(J) acts add to security worries

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, April 13 – Despite having the highest concentration of forces among all the districts of Assam, the situation in the North Cachar Hills district has started deteriorating again with the militants belonging to the DHD (J), commonly known as the Black Widow group, launching a series of attacks.

The administration and security forces are apprehensive of the situation in the hill district, particularly in view of the ensuing Lok Sabha polls.

Within the last three days, the Black Widow militants fired at trains twice killing three persons while one election observer also came under attack from the militants.

Official sources admitted that the Black Widow group is turning out to be one of the most dreaded militant groups of the State as unlike the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), which resorts to planting of explosives, the Black Widow militants dare to fire at the security forces.

According to an assessment of the security forces, the militant group, established in 2004, has around 150 cadres, but the group has no shortage of funds and weapons, while the terrain in the hill district also puts the militants in an advantageous position. Sources said that the group has been collecting huge amounts of funds through extortions and there have been instances in recent past when members of the group even kidnapped people in the name of other militant groups.

The security forces came to know about a recent arms procurement deal by the militant group after the recent arrest of two persons while they were on their way to Shillong to hand over an amount of Rs 1 crore to the group. Sources revealed that according to information available, in the recent deal, the Black Widow group received more than 60 AK series rifles from a Mizoram-based clandestine arms dealer. But it is still not known from where the arms were brought, sources admitted. Security agencies also have evidences of Black Widow militants receiving payments in Kolkata, sources added.

Sources said that more than 50 companies of forces including 21 companies of Central paramilitary forces, Army and Assam Police battalion personnel are currently deployed in the NC Hills district, but unfortunately, the success rate of the forces in the counter-insurgency operations has been very limited, while a recent jailbreak incident also strengthened the hands of the outfit. Sources said that the senior leaders of the outfit are based abroad.

The chairman of the outfit, Jewel Garlosa, is believed to be in Nepal, while the Commander in Chief Niranjan Hojai is also controlling the operations from Nepal, sources added.

The attacks of the outfit have created havoc in the district and severely affected the implementation of mega projects like railway gauge conversion project and the National Highway project. In fact, train services in the hills section had been suspended for months last year because of the attacks and later the Railways had to spend a substantial amount of money to press into service bullet-proof engines on the trains.

Sources said that last year, the State Government was keen on having a ceasefire pact with the outfit, but the Centre was reluctant. The State Government even went to the extent of telling the Centre that it would not be possible to ensure smooth implementation of the railway and highway projects if a ceasefire pact is not signed with the Black Widow group.

But the Centre refused to be a party to such an agreement and directed the State Government to take a decision in this regard in the Unified Command meeting, following which, operations against the members of the group slowed down. But after the killing of ten police personnel, the Unified Command decided to intensify operations against the members of the group.

However, so far, the success of the operations against the group has been “very limited”, sources admitted.

Recently, the group faced a problem with around 40 to 50 cadres deserting the outfit and there have been several attacks on the family members of the ‘deserters’. Sources also revealed that the Black Widow group does not enjoy the close ties with the NSCN (I-M) as in the past and in fact there have been instances of Black Widow militants attacking Naga people.