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193 Black Widow rebels give up arms, move to camps

193 Black Widow rebels give up arms, move to camps

Author: Samudra Gupta Kashyap
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: September 14, 2009
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/193-black-widow-rebels-give-up-arms-move-to/516714/

Peace efforts in Assam's trouble-torn North Cachar Hills district on Sunday received a shot in the arm with as many as 193 cadres of the outlawed Jewel Garlosa faction of Dima Halam Daoga - DHD(J), more popularly known as Black Widow - laying down their arms before the police and shifting to a designated camp set up by the government.

The laying down of arms came well within the September 15 deadline set earlier this month by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram for the group to surrender arms and pave the way for peace talks. It was on September 1 that Chidambaram, at a high-level meeting attended among others by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, had fixed September 15 as deadline for the DHD(J) to surrender arms and shift to designated camps in order to prepare grounds for peace talks.

Today's group was led by Daniel Dimasa, "deputy commander-in-chief" of the armed wing of DHD(J). Niranjan Hojai, the "commander-in-chief", is currently outside the country, but is expected to sneak in or seek formal entry in the near future, official sources said. DHD chairman Jewel Garlosa was earlier arrested on June 13 in Bangalore after he sneaked in from Nepal in disguise.

"Today's was definitely a very good beginning with as many as 193 DHD(J) cadres coming out to lay down their arms and move to designated camps. We are expecting more cadres to follow suit in the next two or three days," said Khagen Sarma, Assam Police Additional Director General (special branch).

The DHD(J) had become so powerful, especially in the absence of gradual collapse of governance in the hill district that extortions, abductions and attacks by the militants brought work on two national projects - a broad-gauge railway track and the last lap of the East-West Corridor, both linking Lumding with Silchar - had come to a grinding halt earlier this year.

Sarma said the cadres who surrendered deposited about 70 sophisticated weapons, including a number of AK-series weapons. Interestingly, while in the case of some other militant groups that entered into ceasefire agreements with the government have kept their weapons under a "double-lock" arrangement, the DHD(J) cadres have totally surrendered their weapons, he said.

"Some other groups which had entered into ceasefire agreements have kept their arms under a joint custody system. But the DHD(J) boys have handed over the arms which will now be entirely in the government's custody," Sarma added.

Today's cadres moved from different hideouts to an Assam Police battalion headquarters at Sontila, about 15 km from Haflong, the North Cachar Hills headquarters, following which they were shifted to a designated camp in the Red Cross Hospital building just constructed near Haflong town.

Over 100 persons, including about 40 security personnel, have been killed by the DHD(J) in the past two years. The DHD(J) also had a hand in the ethnic clashes between the Dimasa and Zeme tribes.

The authorities have identified as many as five locations in different parts of the district for setting up designated camps for the DHD(J) cadres.

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