Maoists training Assam militants: security officials

July 31st, 2008 - 4:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, July 31 (IANS) A shadowy insurgent group in northeastern India’s Assam state has established links with Maoist rebels, with several of its cadres said to be undergoing training at the hands of Maoist instructors, mainly in Jharkhand, security officials said Thursday. “Two militants belonging to the Adivasi National Liberation Army (ANLA) who surrendered to the authorities in the eastern Golaghat district Wednesday have revealed that up to 24 of their cadres have been undergoing training with Maoists in Jharkhand since January,” an official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

Mikhail Bina and Raju Gaur, the two ANLA militants who have surrendered, told police that the group has more than 300 cadres and its arsenal includes dozens of AK series assault rifles, revolvers and grenades.

The ANLA, formed in 2004 to push the interest of tea plantation workers across the state, shot into the limelight after it claimed responsibility for the Dec 13, 2007 bomb attack on a New Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express in eastern Assam that killed five passengers and injured nine others.

The group is also said to have a written agreement with the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) for possible joint operations against the security forces and for not carrying out extortion in each others’ areas of influence without prior notice.

“We believe that the ANLA has kept most of its weaponry with the NSCN-IM,” the security official said.

The ANLA has been trying to capitalise on the Adivasi sentiments after the community’s agitation for scheduled tribe (ST) status gained momentum following the Nov 24, 2007 rally in Guwahati that turned violent after protesters clashed with local residents.

The Assam Police has always believed that ANLA leaders were operating out of Jharkhand and has been keeping a close watch on their activities.

ANLA started its terror run by kidnapping wealthy members from within the community, including businessmen and relatives of some local politicians in southern Assam.

During the initial days after its formation, the ANLA received patronage from the Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA), active in Karbi Anglong district. Later, the NSCN-IM took the group under its wings.

Analysts say the ANLA could well emerge as a new terror front in Assam.

“The group could well provide the bridge to the Maoists to come and open shop in Assam,” said Wasbir Hussain, director of the Guwahati-based Centre for Development and Peace Studies, a think tank.

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