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DHD's death dance

 

Dimasa militants wipe out more than 25 people in “retaliatory strikes” in assam
MONALISA GOGOI | Issue Dated: June 1, 2008
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DHD's death dance This is a land where far away from their homes and hearths, people are butchered by rebels who by all accounts now operate without a cause.

Statistically speaking—which is what such deaths invariably boil down to for both the government and people, barring, of course, the families victims leave behind—this is a land where the Jewel Garlosa faction of Dima Halim Daogah (DHD) has killed at least 68 people since the beginning of this year. Significantly, the latest killings over the past fortnight—those of 25 people, including railway track workers, truck drivers and other such people who could have no connection with the conflict in the first place—came at a time when the DHD claimed to have been on a unilateral ceasefire, bringing into sharp focus all over again the information gap that exists between the state administration, the army and the state’s intelligence network. The DHD, following the killings, said that the attacks had been carried out because the army had in an operation killed 12 of its members during the unilateral ceasefire. The government quite literally had its hands full this time: along with the DHD’s mayhem came a 'quit' notice from the Karbi National Liberation Front (KNLF), which also operates in the area, asking Hindi-speaking people to quit Karbi Anglong’s Ambagan area, where, they alleged, immigrant labourers were usurping land belonging to tribal communities. The terror is such that not too many people were willing to get involved in the issue. “It’s wrong to ask Indian citizens to leave the region,” said Sarthe Kramsa, president of the Karbi Students’ Association. “But don’t forget that we also don’t want to get into a confrontation with the militants.” The superintendent of police of Karbi Anglong, Nityananda Goswami, however, had a different version: “The people who were here had taken land on leases of 15 years, which had expired. They would have had to leave anyway.”

According to the DHD, meanwhile, their operations were triggered by an attack by a Sikh Regiment unit which killed 12 of its men at their Horelu camp on the Assam-Manipur border. The army initially denied it had killed any DHD men. However, sources in the 57th Mountain Artillery Brigade said the militants died during an engagement with the army.

The government, quite expectedly, stuck to its staid old line that “the DHD has attacked and killed these people out of sheer frustration”.

This time, however, the confusion seemed overwhelming. “We had received a letter from the DHD saying it had declared a ceasefire but how were we to assess their sincerity? These things take time. We had taken eight months to work out a ceasefire with the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB),” said Himanta Biswa Sarma, state health minister and government spokesperson. “Also, the army does not take our permission while conducting an operation.” However, the real story lies in understanding why 65 companies of para-military forces and the army cannot handle a 250-strong rebel outfit that claims to serve the interests of just 1.6 lakh people.

Only part of the answer to that is that the mountainous terrain is better known to the rebels, though even this does not cut much ice, for there are enough army units with experience in handling such terrain. In the final analysis, it is the total lack of coordination and distrust between law enforcing agencies and the defence forces that allows such repeated mayhem.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017