GUWAHATI, Dec 20 - Police and security forces achieved another landmark in the move to wipe out militancy from Assam as 63 militants will lay down arms in front of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in a function to be held tomorrow. Security agencies are of the view that the surrender of militants belonging to various outfits would go a long way in restoring peace in the State.
Highly placed security sources told The Assam Tribune that multi-pronged approach adopted by the Government to restore peace in the State was paying dividends and more and more militants are coming forward to join the mainstream. Sources pointed out that relentless counter-insurgency operations were putting immense pressure on militants, while, on the other hand, the rehabilitation policy adopted by the Government for surrendered militants is also encouraging the militants to give up the path of violence.
Of the militants who will lay down arms tomorrow, 18 belongs to the United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent), 32 are members of the United People�s Revolutionary Front, a Kuki militant outfit and the rest are from the Dimasa National Liberation Army and People�s Democratic Council of Karbi Longri. As all four factions of National Democratic Front of Boroland signed peace pact with Central and State Governments in January this year, the surrender of 63 militants will go a long way in restoration of peace in Assam, sources added.
Sources said that the militants, who will lay down arms tomorrow, were in touch with senior police officers including the Director General of Police and IGP of Special Branch for some time. After the surrender, their credentials will be checked by a screening committee headed by IGP of the Special Branch. The committee will first check the cases the militants have against them and also determine whether they were really active members of militant groups before they get the benefits of the rehabilitation policy of the Government.
According to an estimate of police and security forces, the strength of ULFA(I) has now been reduced to around 150 to 180 cadres and majority of them are in Myanmar, while a few are in Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
The ULFA(I) have been trying to extort money from traders in the areas bordering Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. A number of owners of tea gardens and stone crushers as well as coal traders have received extortion demands from the militant outfit in recent times. The positive aspect is that majority of such people are coming forward to report to the police whenever they receive such demands. However, the possibility of some traders paying the militants without informing the police cannot be ruled out, sources added.
Sources said that the DNLA was involved in large scale extortions and the outfit was receiving help from the of NSCM(I-M). Sources revealed that though the NSCM(I-M) is under ceasefire agreement with Government of India, the outfit was helping out DNLA and even allowed cadres of the outfit to stay near camp Hebron, the headquarter of NSCN (I-M).