GUWAHATI, Aug 21 � The Central Government is concerned over the availability of illegal weapons with the surrendered militants or militants under cease-fire agreement and requested the Assam Government to deal with the matter as such weapons can be used in ethnic clashes as well as for committing crimes.
Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Assam Tribune that according to reports prepared by the security agencies, almost all the militant groups under cease-fire agreement have been violating the ground rules of such agreements and they are keeping sophisticated weapons illegally. This issue was raised by the MHA in meetings with the State Government on several occasions, but till date, no strong action has been taken by the State to launch an all out offensive to seize such weapons. The recovery of one AK 56 rifle from the possession of senior member of the pro talk faction ULFA leader Hira Sarania yesterday once again brought into focus the fact that such illegal weapons are being used for criminal activities.
Sources revealed that though it is difficult to make an exact assessment of the number of sophisticated weapons available with the militant groups under cease-fire agreement with the Government, according to assessment of the security agencies, at least four to six hundred such weapons are available in Assam.
MHA sources said that the Bodo Liberation Tiger (BLT) was disbanded in 2003 following the signing of the Accord with the State and Central Governments, but some members of the outfit are still in possession of weapons and it is evident that all the weapons were not laid down. The BRTF, an offshoot of the BLT possesses at least 40 small arms and around 20 AK series rifles, sources added. It may be mentioned here that the All Bodo Students� Union (ABSU) had also time and again requested the Centre to deal with the problem of availability of illegal weapons in the BTAD area.
Sources said that a few militant groups under cease-fire agreement have laid down weapons while signing cease-fire agreements and some militant groups have agreed to keep the weapons under double lock system in the designated camps. The weapons of the pro talk faction of the ULFA are officially kept in the Nav Nirman Kendras under double lock and key system with one key with the police. But like the other outfits under cease-fire, the leaders of the pro talk faction of the ULFA are also keeping some weapons with themselves citing their own security and for some time, the Assam Government did not take up the issue seriously.
MHA sources pointed out that the Government can think of even stopping the payments to the militant groups under cease-fire agreement if they fail to deposit all the weapons before launching an offensive against them.