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Ultras� bid to extort money from candidates

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, March 14 - With election to the Assam Legislative Assembly approaching, the security agencies have come across disturbing inputs about the possibility of militant outfits trying to take advantage of the situation to boost their coffers to revive themselves.

Highly placed security sources told The Assam Tribune that it is quite usual for the militants to extort money from the candidates and leaders of political parties during the election process. This time also, the security agencies have come across inputs about the plans of the outfits to make such attempts.

Sources revealed that the militants belonging to the NDFB(S) have already called up a few candidates, but it is still not known whether anyone actually paid them. All the other active militant groups are planning to demand money from the candidates and the police and security agencies are keeping a close watch on the situation to prevent such bids of the ultras. However, it would be helpful for the security agencies to nab the ultras involved in such attempts if they receive full cooperation from those who receive calls from the militants demanding money, sources added.

According to information available with the security agencies, the active militant groups are facing severe financial crisis and they are even finding difficult to maintain the camps in Myanmar. Sources revealed that the United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) was forced to go for severe austerity measures as the sources of funds are drying up and the leaders even stopped funding the family members of the cadres.

However, the ULFA(I) is still getting some money from the Upper Assam districts. On the modus operandi used to extort money, sources said that senior leaders like Arunodoi Dohotiya, Nayan Medhi , Ganesh Lahon and others are calling up businessmen and tea garden owners in upper Assam demanding money. They are using linkmen to collect money from the businessmen. However, not everyone is paying the demanded amount. Some are ignoring the calls that they are receiving from the ULFA(I), while, some others are negotiating the amount.

The situation is worse for the NDFB(S) as the main source of income for the outfit was kidnapping for ransom and due to sustained operations for the past one year, the militants are on the run and even those inside Assam are not in a position to come out of their hiding places to extort money. The NDFB(S) members are surviving in Myanmar with loans from other outfits, while, they are also getting some money from the timber smugglers.

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