Assam to raise armed battalion of surrendered rebels

May 20th, 2008 - 6:45 pm ICT by admin  

Guwahati, May 20 (IANS) The Assam government would soon raise an armed battalion by recruiting surrendered separatists for conducting anti-insurgency operations in the state that is wracked by militancy for close to three decades, officials said Tuesday. “We shall be recruiting surrendered militants to raise a battalion (1,000 personnel) for carrying out special tasks across the state, especially deploying them for operations,” Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told journalists.

There are close to 8,000 surrendered militants in Assam from various militant groups who have laid down arms and joined the mainstream over the past two decades.

“The advantage is that most of the new recruits are already adept in handling weapons and it would be easy for us to deploy them immediately after being recruited. Recruiting fresh people in the battalion would mean spending a lot of time in training them,” said Gogoi.

“This would be some sort of an auxiliary force and we are sure to get results through this new battalion.

“We would be having some criteria for recruiting and would choose those surrendered militants whose track record after they laid down arms was good. We do not see any problem from the new battalion,” he said.

There are close to a dozen militant groups operating in Assam with demands ranging from secession to greater autonomy.

A number of militants belonging to various rebel groups have surrendered over the years after being disillusioned with life in the jungles. The surrendered militants in the region are being rehabilitated under a central government package that includes financial incentives, besides providing them with vocational training and soft bank loans for setting up businesses or opening farms for making them self-reliant.

The decision to raise the armed battalion of surrendered militants came after tribal guerrillas of the Jewel Garlosa faction of the Dima Halam Daogah (DHD-J), popularly known as the Black Widow, went on a rampage killing about 25 people in separate attacks last week in southern Assam’s North Cachar Hills district.

“We are very concerned over the ongoing violence and are committed to dealing with the issue with a firm hand,” he said.

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