Tribal rebel outfits pressure Assam for leaders' release

Guwahati, Feb 12:Tribal insurgent outfits have stepped up pressure on the Assam government for their leaders' release from jail, peeved over the perceived priority being accorded to freeing leaders of the United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) for facilitating peace talks. Pointing out that there is more to militancy in the state than the Ulfa, the rebel outfits are unwilling to wait.

The Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel) group (better known as the 'Black Widow') for instance, has threatened a return to the "bad old days" from February 15 if its chairman Jewel Garlossa and commander-in-chief Niranjan Hojai are not freed. The outfit had laid down arms in October 2009.

"We want our leaders released or Dima Hasao (formerly North Cachar Hills) will burn from the morning of February 15. For starters, we will not allow trains to run besides disrupting work on the East-West Corridor," DHD-J vice-chairman Peipring Dimasa said on Thursday. "The government should learn not to be partial to any group."

The DHD-J had shot to notoriety by blowing up trains and carrying out an ethnic cleansing in which more than 350 people were killed, prior to Garlossa's arrest from Bangalore in June 2009.

The group's nexus with politicians and bureaucrats leading to diversion of development funds was the first assignment of the National Investigation Agency. The National Democratic Front of Boroland has also demanded the release of its chairman Ranjan Daimary, a prime accused in the October 30, 2008, serial blasts that killed 92 persons. To show intent, the outfit abducted six World Wide Fund for Nature volunteers last Sunday. It freed three of them — all women — on Tuesday.

A senior home department officer denied being partial to the Ulfa. "We are accommodative and looking into everything case by case," he said.