Cobra chief held for extortion

Kokrajhar, Oct. 28 : Kokrajhar police have arrested the commander-in-chief of Adivasi Cobra Militant of Assam, Kanhu Murmu, for forcing tribals to give up a part of their rehabilitation grant towards the outfit’s coffers.

The outfit, which claims to fight for the cause of Adivasis, collected money from the poor tribals living in Joypur relief camp.

Sunil Bhagat, the secretary of relief camp committee, who was also arrested, admitted that the Cobra militants had collected money from the camp inmates.

Bhagat said a meeting was held on October 21 under the chairmanship of the Cobra commander-in-chief where the outfit asked the relief beneficiaries to donate Rs 10,000 from the Rs 50,000 they received as rehabilitating grant, of which Rs 6,000 would go to Cobra militants and Rs 4,000 was meant for a private school.

The police also arrested six other persons, including government official, Uday Kumar Roy, who is in-charge of Joypur relief camp, when they were withdrawing the collected money from Kokrajhar Assam Gramin Vikash Bank in Kokrajhar town.

Cobra militant Lakhiram Tudu and four others, Daniel Hasda, Basu Baskey, Baburam Murmu, Baburam Murmu, were among those arrested from the bank.

Assam agriculture minister Pramila Rani Brahma and Kokrajhar deputy commissioner Carol Narzary recently distributed the rehabilitation grant in-aid cheques for Rs 50,000 each to 263 families affected in the ethnic violence in 1996 and 1998 in Kokrajhar.

“We had received information of the Cobra militants asking the relief inmates to donate money. So our team in plain clothes went to the bank and caught them red-handed while withdrawing the money — Rs 180,000 was recovered from them,” a police source said.

The Cobra commander-in-chief refuted the allegation, saying it was baseless and politically motivated.