Assam to probe tribal leaders’ links with militants

May 23rd, 2008 - 8:08 pm ICT by admin  

Guwahati, May 23 (IANS) The Assam government is planning to launch a probe against three tribal leaders to establish charges of their alleged links with a militia group, which has killed more than 70 people in the recent months, 22 of them in the past fortnight, authorities said Friday. The government has accused the chief of the autonomous North Cachar Hills District Council, Depolal Hojai, and two of his colleagues, of having links with a Dimasa tribal militant group, the Black Widow, currently wreaking havoc in the area bordering Nagaland.

“We have sufficient information to say that these leaders belonging to a party called the Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC) have links with the Black Widow. We are, therefore, contemplating legal action against them by setting up a commission of enquiry or through other means,” government spokesman Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is also the state’s health minister, said.

Hojai and his colleagues in the ASDC have denied the charges. and asserted that it was a “conspiracy” by the Congress-led state government to blame them after having failed to maintain law and order in the remote southern district.

Law and order is a subject of the state government while the autonomous council exercises control over other administartive departments.

The Black Widow, formed in 2003, is a break-away group of Dima Halam Daogah (DHD), which entered into a truce agreement with the authorities.

Earlier this week, after a string of attacks leading to the death of 22 innocent civilians, the Black Widow, fighting for autonomy of the area’s Dimasa tribals, has offered a unilateral truce until June 25.

The state government has already rejected the group’s truce offer and has decided to intensify security offensive in the district.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has also announced the decision to raise an auxiliary force of 1,000 men comprising former rebels to take on the militants in the district and elsewhere in the state.

“We have documents to prove that the ASDC had even struck a deal with the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) before the council elections last year. We also know that one of the Black Widow leaders is a close kin of the council chief,” Sarma claimed.

Situation in the district is precarious as train and truck services came to a halt a week ago, causing shortages of food and other essential commodities.

The railways have suspended services and evacuated its personnel after abandoning 13 railway stations in the district in the wake of Black Widow rebels killing 10 railway workers, including a train driver, last fortnight.

The truckers have decided not to ply vehicles because 10 truck drivers and their assistants were shot dead by the Black Widow rebels during the stepped up violence in the past fortnight.

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