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China refused plea for help from northeast insurgent groups: Assam

The Home Ministry said since 2015, the NDFB was involved in the killing of 19 civilians. Photo: Ritu Raaj Konwar  

The Assam government has informed a UAPA tribunal that major extremist outfits of the northeast had contacted Chinese authorities for assistance in their “fight against India” but the Chinese had refused to provide assistance directly or indirectly.

The affidavit filed by the Assam government before the tribunal in May, said the United National Liberation Front of West of South East Asia (UNLFWSEA), a Myanmar-based conglomerate of banned outfits such as the NSCN-K, ULFA-I, NDFB-S and KLO, had taken a resolution “to take assistance from third nation” to fulfil and achieve their goal. The conglomerate was formed in 2015. The affidavit is not clear on when it approached the Chinese authorities.

“Accordingly, UNLFW first preferred China to seek for assistance. Paresh Baruah and Yung Aung @ Thoiba contacted Chinese authority. However, the Chinese refused to provide assistance directly or indirectly,” the tribunal’s order quoting Assam government’s affidavit said. Baruah is the leader of anti-talks faction of United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). He is wanted in India for a number of cases such as attacks on security personnel, kidnapping and extortion, and is said to shuttle between Taga in Myanmar and Yunnan province in west China. He has a Red Corner notice issued against him by the Interpol. Yung Aung is a leader of National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang faction.

The tribunal was constituted under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) after the Union Home Ministry extended the ban on the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) in November 2019 for five years. On September 22, the tribunal after examining the case, upheld the ban and declared NDFB as an “unlawful association for a period of five years”.

ISI steps in

After the Chinese refused, “as an alternative, UNLFWSEA looked for establishing nexus with Pakistan at any cost at the earliest,” the affidavit said.

“It was learnt that Pakistan (ISI) was providing all sorts of assistance to all outfit groups fighting against India. Pakistan (ISI) was offering assistance to such groups financially, providing arms ammunitions and explosives. Pakistan (ISI) desired such groups to destroy more and more Indian government‘s properties, railways, bridges, Army, Police and security forces, oil refineries and other government properties. However, the plan could not be executed due to two main reasons – i) impeachment of Khango Konyak from NSCN(K) and ii) Attack in Taga Camp by Indian and Myanmar Army jointly,” the affidavit read. The planning was done between July 15- August 1, 2018 during the tenure of Khango Konyak’s chairmanship of NSCN(K). the affidavit said.

The Union Home Ministry informed the tribunal that since 2015, NDFB was involved in killing of 19 civilians. It said NDFB was involved in 62 violent incidents in which 55 extremists have been killed, 450 extremists arrested and 444 arms recovered.

Large scale surrenders

Significantly, after the Ministry banned the NDFB in November 2019, on January 11 this year, several leaders and cadres from all factions of the NDFB “crossed over to India from their base camps in Myanmar” to join peace talks with the Centre. A tripartite suspension of operation agreement was signed between Union Home Ministry, Government of Assam and factional head of NDFB. On January 27, a Memorandum of Settlement was arrived among the various NDFB factions, All Bodo Students Union (ABSU), Assam government and the Union Home Ministry.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah who presided over the event in Delhi said the agreement would “end the 50-year-old Bodo crisis.”

“Today, Assam is united. Around 1500 cadres of NDFB(P), NDFB(RD) and NDFB(S) will be rehabilitated by Centre and Assam Government. They will be assimilated in the mainstream ….No one will be called a militant now, they all are our brothers and sisters,” Mr. Shah had said.

NDFB was first declared as an unlawful association in 1992 and the ban was extended from time to time. 2,823 civilians, 239 security personnel and 939 Bodo cadres have been killed so far. The outfit later split in four factions.

The Assam government said activities of the NDFB were aimed at “asserting itself as a group that continued with the armed struggle for sovereign Bodoland.”

The NDFB's counsel told the tribunal that the UAPA provisions are not applicable to the disbanded organisation as all its members had surrendered and disbanded the outfit according to the terms of the Memorandum of Settlement.

The Assam government said the ban was necessary as the cadres had deposited only 38 pieces of arms with 1,558 ammunitions during surrender ceremony. “Further they have also not submitted their final list of cadres to the government despite several communications made to them. In view of above developments, there is every likelihood that these disgruntled residual leaders and cadres of NDFB who are still taking shelter on foreign soil may reorganise the organisation NDFB and continue secessionist and subversive activities in future in collusion with the like-minded extremist outfits of the North-East,” the Assam government said.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2020 4:01:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/china-refused-plea-for-help-from-northeast-insurgent-groups-assam/article32689076.ece

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