"As we embark on a new journey of peace and progress, I welcome to the mainstream all 1615 cadres of NDFB factions who have laid down their arms today. With another 644 cadres from various organisations who also surrendered recently, this will pave the way for a #NewIndia." Sarbananda Sonowal on Twitter, January 30, 2020

Assam government said it has information indicating that disgruntled National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) militants are forming a new outfit. The development comes thirteen months after the latest Bodo Accord was signed in New Delhi. 

“There is information which indicates formation of a new outfit namely Bodo State Liberation Tiger Force (BSLTF) by some disgruntled NDFB cadres who are reportedly demanding inclusion of Sonitpur, Biswanath and Dhemaji in proposed BTR,” the February 22 notification extending the Disturbed Area Tag of Assam under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, notes, citing the development as one of the reasons. It did not detail if it is an armed outfit.

A senior official of the state’s security apparatus said they have no information if such an outfit already exists. “There are rumours from time to time and we keep receiving information that such a thing may be happening. That is why perhaps it has been cited in the notification,” the official said. 

Over 1,600 militants belonging to four factions of the NDFB laid down arms in Guwahati days after the latest Bodo pact in January 2020, the third such agreement between Bodo groups and the Centre, was signed in New Delhi. 

Many more weapons have been recovered since. A total of 56 AK series rifles, six M series rifles, four HK series rifles, 329 grenades, 92 pistols and revolvers and 6,457 rounds of ammunition among other weapons were recovered between January 1, 2020, and January 27, 2021, in multiple operations by Assam Police and other security forces in Bodo Territorial Area District, as per data shared by GP Singh, the Additional Director General of Police, Assam on January 28.

There have been more operations since, including the one on February 2 where Kokrajhar Police recovered five AK 56 rifles and other weapons. A senior police official in Kokrajhar said the recoveries of arms is still being investigated. 

Meanwhile, the latest pact promised more powers for the autonomous region, an increase in local council seats from 40 to 60, rehabilitation of surrendered militants and the contentious issue of reorganisation of areas under the council among others. Also, the BTAD was renamed Bodo Territorial Region. 

Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma recently said the commission formed for reorganising the region and demarcating the new boundaries would submit its report by August 15. 

Other reasons for extending the Disturbed Area tag 

The notification extending the disturbed area tag by up to six months notes that escalation of extremist activities cannot be ruled out in the runup to the Assembly Elections. 

While the government notes the banned ULFA (I) as the major extremist outfit, it points out that there are some other “proxy ethnic militant groups surrogated by the NSCN” who have been indulging in terrorist activities, attacks on security forces etc..

It notes how ULFA (I) and NSCN (K) abducted two employees of the Quippo Oil and Gas from Changlang in Arunachal Pradesh and has demanded Rs 20 crore as ransom. The duo continues to be in the custody of the militants since they were kidnapped on December 21, 2020. 

The notification also cites how ULFA (I) carried out two attacks on security forces in 2020 along with other armed groups like the NSCN, People’s Liberation Army and Manipur Naga People’s Front.

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