File photo of NLFT cadre surrendering. Credit: EastMojo Image

Agartala: The banned National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), a dreaded insurgent outfit, may be lying low in neighbouring Bangladesh and could ratchet up its campaign of extortion and kidnapping in the coming months, according to a report by security agencies.

A report prepared by state and central security agencies recently, made available to PTI said the outfit despite facing a financial crunch and a depletion in numbers due to surrenders by many militants is still functional with its leaders located mostly in Bangladesh, while a few have sheltered in Myanmar and in Mizoram.

The outfit which was declared outlawed by the MHA in 1997 under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), is estimated to have a strength of around 40, considerably lower than its peak strength of around 500 insurgents.

The report prepared during a recently held meeting in Agartala said, Deliberating upon inputs related to leadership profiling, organizational structure, and camps of NLFT (BM), the present strength of NLFT (BM) Outfits are about 40 and their leaders are mostly in Bangladesh.

It however also praised Bangladesh security forces for regularly carrying out special operations in Chittagong Hill Tracts to fight the menace of insurgency, besides border domination duties, signalling the continuation of close cooperation between the two countries.

The report said Utpal Debbarma, self-styled Secretary-General, Sonadhan Debbarma self-styled Finance Secretary, and Sachin Debbarma self-styled Youth Affairs, Culture, Agriculture Secretary are in hiding in Bangladesh, while Biswa Mohan Debbarma Advisor of the outfit is believed to be in hiding in Mizoram, and Jacob Hrawngkhal, self-styled President of the outfit is in Myanmar,.

The report said, movement of the members of the outfit was noticed inside Tripura and a member of this group surrendered while the remaining militants have gone back to Bangladesh.

A small group led by Dilip Debbarma has influence in Baramura Ranges, Khowai, Champahour, Mugiakami, Teliamura Police Stations under Khowai District and subsequently, the movement of this group is observed in Ganganagar, Raishyabari, Gandachera and Chawmanu under district Dhalai, the report said.

The report claimed that two camps – Silchari and Ujjanchari – are located in Rangamati district of Bangladesh.

Besides that, the Segunbagan transit camp in Bangladesh is functional from October 2020 onwards. This camp has no permanent infrastructure and mostly has some Bamboo structures. All cadres used open spaces and some polythene sheets to sleep during the night in the rainy season, the report said.

The security agencies believe NLFT is beset by a financial crunch and the group is consequently planning to intensify its campaign of extortion and kidnapping operations to raise funds.

They are planning to serve extortion notice through their cadres who have undergone training in the recent past at Nabakchhara, Silchhari and Segunbagan camps in Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh and came back to Tripura and presently scattered in many areas.., the report said.

The report said that the outfit tried to influence the election process in Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) held in April 2021 but due to the proactive role of police and other forces, it could not achieve its desired results.

Tripura shares about 856-km long border with the neighbouring country and some portions still remain unfenced, especially in parts of the Dhalai district.

The NLFT was formed in 1989 with an objective to liberate Tripura from the union of India and to deport all foreigners who entered Tripura after 1952.

Police said during the 30-year long insurgency waged by NLFT, the outfit killed hundreds of people, kidnapped more than five hundred people and extorted huge amounts of money.

Earlier on August 14 of 2019 around 88 cadres of NLFT surrendered with their arms.

The groups last important strike was the kidnapping of three NPCC construction workers on December 7 last year, from Dhalai district.

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