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Extortion, kidnappings on the rise in Sonitpur

By Shambhu Boro
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TEZPUR, June 21 � People living in the northern part of Sonitpur district have expressed strong resentment against the alleged failure of the administration to check unlawful activities like extortion, kidnapping and murder, allegedly being carried out openly by the militants in the region over the years.

Though the police and security forces, have expressed their satisfaction on the law-and-order situation of the region, the people along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border are still spending sleepless nights.

From Mazbat to Gohpur, the people have been living in terror since the last decade as they are being subjected to extortion demands, non-payment of which results in threats, besides kidnapping and murder. There are more than 2,000 villages in this belt under the BTAD and Sonitpur district.

Intelligence sources believe that along with the NDFB (Ranjan Daimari and Songbijit factions) some other groups like the AANLA, Virsa Commando Force (VCF), Cobra Militant Force and some Muslim armed groups are active in this belt, carrying out extortion and kidnapping, posing a serious threat to peace as well as the communal fabric among the different communities.

A couple of weeks back, the people of Kolbasti, a Rabha community-dominated area near Hograjuli in the vicinity of Sonai-Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary under Dhekiajuli police station in Sonitpur district were asked to leave the village by the cadres of Ranjan Daimari faction of the NDFB or pay money as tax. This incident created sharp reaction among the people who have urged the government to look into the problem. The villagers even alleged that members of this militant group, taking advantage of the ceasefire pact with the government, move openly in the area, carrying out unlawful acts like kidnapping and extortion before the very eyes of the police.

The extortion demands range from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1 lakh to be paid by businessmen, rich farmers, tea-growers, and government employees. The most tragic thing is that many of them have to oblige as the police and civil administration fail to take any action even though there is a huge police force in the State. Recently in Dhekiajuli, one school student, Aditya Jaiswal, was kidnapped and Rs 1 crore was demanded as ransom by the kidnappers from the child�s father. Aditya was later dramatically rescued by the police from Batachipur area. However, the local people as well as the parents of the victim said that though it was suspected to be an act of the NDFB(S), later some Adivasi and Muslim youths were identified as being involved in the incident.

In Khelmati area under Bihaguri police outpost in Sonitpur district, a brick industry owner got separate extortion demands of Rs 10 lakh from both the Ranjan Daimari and the Songbijit factions of the NDFB. He lodged complaints with the police, but could not get relief. Now more and more demands and threats to his life are pouring in. A few months back, a businessman of Dhekiajuli�s Gadhajuli area, was kidnapped from Batachipur area and released after a long time on payment.

It may be mentioned that in the Batachipur area, which is a hotbed of NDFB militants, ASP Gulzar Hussain was killed in an ambush by the Songbijit faction of the NDFB. However, during the last one decade, many Bodo youths have been arrested and killed during counter-insurgency operations in the name of conducting operations against the NDFB militants.

But intimidation and extortion are still rampant in the area, it is learnt. A few days back, an assistant manager of the Belsiri TE under Dhekiajuli police station was handed over an extortion demand of Rs 10 lakh in the name of the NDFB. Later, based on intelligence inputs, three Hindi-speaking youths were arrested by the police. They confessed that they did it for an extra income.

Likewise, one small tea grower of Sirajuli area under Dhekiajuli police station got a demand of Rs 10 lakh over telephone in the name of the NDFB. Later in this connection, seven youths namely, Nazrul Islam, Mafiz Ali, Gajen Basumatary , Karamchan Narzary of Dhekiajuli area, Subhan Boro, Mahesh Tamuli and Jagadish Boro of Chardwar area under Chardwar police station in Sonitpur district were apprehended by the police.

The major concern is that as per intelligence reports, many people are taking to extorting and kidnapping as an easy way out to earn some money. The people of this area feel that the administration should take necessary steps to provide them proper security and should deal with the issue honestly, at least in the interest of the public so that they can live in peace and without any fear.

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Extortion, kidnappings on the rise in Sonitpur

TEZPUR, June 21 � People living in the northern part of Sonitpur district have expressed strong resentment against the alleged failure of the administration to check unlawful activities like extortion, kidnapping and murder, allegedly being carried out openly by the militants in the region over the years.

Though the police and security forces, have expressed their satisfaction on the law-and-order situation of the region, the people along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border are still spending sleepless nights.

From Mazbat to Gohpur, the people have been living in terror since the last decade as they are being subjected to extortion demands, non-payment of which results in threats, besides kidnapping and murder. There are more than 2,000 villages in this belt under the BTAD and Sonitpur district.

Intelligence sources believe that along with the NDFB (Ranjan Daimari and Songbijit factions) some other groups like the AANLA, Virsa Commando Force (VCF), Cobra Militant Force and some Muslim armed groups are active in this belt, carrying out extortion and kidnapping, posing a serious threat to peace as well as the communal fabric among the different communities.

A couple of weeks back, the people of Kolbasti, a Rabha community-dominated area near Hograjuli in the vicinity of Sonai-Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary under Dhekiajuli police station in Sonitpur district were asked to leave the village by the cadres of Ranjan Daimari faction of the NDFB or pay money as tax. This incident created sharp reaction among the people who have urged the government to look into the problem. The villagers even alleged that members of this militant group, taking advantage of the ceasefire pact with the government, move openly in the area, carrying out unlawful acts like kidnapping and extortion before the very eyes of the police.

The extortion demands range from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1 lakh to be paid by businessmen, rich farmers, tea-growers, and government employees. The most tragic thing is that many of them have to oblige as the police and civil administration fail to take any action even though there is a huge police force in the State. Recently in Dhekiajuli, one school student, Aditya Jaiswal, was kidnapped and Rs 1 crore was demanded as ransom by the kidnappers from the child�s father. Aditya was later dramatically rescued by the police from Batachipur area. However, the local people as well as the parents of the victim said that though it was suspected to be an act of the NDFB(S), later some Adivasi and Muslim youths were identified as being involved in the incident.

In Khelmati area under Bihaguri police outpost in Sonitpur district, a brick industry owner got separate extortion demands of Rs 10 lakh from both the Ranjan Daimari and the Songbijit factions of the NDFB. He lodged complaints with the police, but could not get relief. Now more and more demands and threats to his life are pouring in. A few months back, a businessman of Dhekiajuli�s Gadhajuli area, was kidnapped from Batachipur area and released after a long time on payment.

It may be mentioned that in the Batachipur area, which is a hotbed of NDFB militants, ASP Gulzar Hussain was killed in an ambush by the Songbijit faction of the NDFB. However, during the last one decade, many Bodo youths have been arrested and killed during counter-insurgency operations in the name of conducting operations against the NDFB militants.

But intimidation and extortion are still rampant in the area, it is learnt. A few days back, an assistant manager of the Belsiri TE under Dhekiajuli police station was handed over an extortion demand of Rs 10 lakh in the name of the NDFB. Later, based on intelligence inputs, three Hindi-speaking youths were arrested by the police. They confessed that they did it for an extra income.

Likewise, one small tea grower of Sirajuli area under Dhekiajuli police station got a demand of Rs 10 lakh over telephone in the name of the NDFB. Later in this connection, seven youths namely, Nazrul Islam, Mafiz Ali, Gajen Basumatary , Karamchan Narzary of Dhekiajuli area, Subhan Boro, Mahesh Tamuli and Jagadish Boro of Chardwar area under Chardwar police station in Sonitpur district were apprehended by the police.

The major concern is that as per intelligence reports, many people are taking to extorting and kidnapping as an easy way out to earn some money. The people of this area feel that the administration should take necessary steps to provide them proper security and should deal with the issue honestly, at least in the interest of the public so that they can live in peace and without any fear.

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