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Crackdown on terror in NC hills
Published on 1 Jun. 2009 12:12 AM IST
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The much-awaited crackdown against terrorists in the North Cachar hills district of Assam has begun and the government has adopted a twin strategy to block the sources of funds to the ultras and annihilate them. The Assam government has also suspended the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC) after the arrest of the council’s chief executive member (CEM) Mohet Hojai for alleged links with separatist outfits, officials said here Sunday. The District Council was suspended and the administration had been brought under the control of Assam Governor Shiv Charan Mathur, which was ‘’equivalent’’ to the President’s rule in the Autonomous District Council, UNI reported. Meanwhile, Army and Para-Military forces have fanned out to the interior areas to liquidate the terrorists. Dispur Administration, as per the direction from the Centre, has taken initiatives to stop organised funding to the terrorists and arrested one of the bureaucrats, R H Khan, Joint Director Social Welfare Department, from Haflong yesterday. He is alleged to be the mastermind behind the ‘’transfer’’ of government funds to the militants’ outfits for over a decade. ‘’It is true that huge funds, which were meant for development, have been embezzled by corrupt officers. Thus, a major chunk of the funds came under the possession of the terrorists,’’ Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said. ‘’The District Councils, being autonomous in nature, receive funds directly from the Centre and are authorised to utilise them. A select group of bureaucrats, including Khan and ruling members of the council, has been traditionally using the funds for the benefit of militant groups at the cost of development,’’ Gogoi added. It may be mentioned Special Task Force (STF) commandos arrested Hojai and two other senior officials late Saturday for allegedly financing the DHD (J) militant outfit or the Black Widow group. Gogoi earlier told reporters that he had asked the STF to arrest Hojai and others associated with the militants. The 28-member NCHAC looks after the development of the north Cachar hills region in southern Assam. The region has a population of a little over 200,000 and 68 percent of them belong to tribal communities including the Dimasa, Zeme Naga, Hmar, Karbi, Kuki, Jaintia, Hrangkhol, Biate, Thadao, Khelma, Vaiphei and Mizo tribes. The population also includes Bengalis, Nepalis and other communities. The security forces picked up the local elected head of the District Council and he was taken to an unknown destination, a senior official said. The District Council is a locally elected body under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and the CEM is its head, equivalent to a Cabinet Minister running the administration with separate budget except the policing. Hojai belongs to a small regional party and was running the Council. He had been dodging police arrest for a close two months after police arrested two of his accomplices at Shillong, who were traveling with Rs one crore in cash, which was meant for the coffers of the terrorist group Black Widow. Hojai was arrested following inputs gathered from two cadres of the DHD outfit who were arrested near the Assam-Meghalaya border April 2. Police had recovered Rs.10 million, two pistols and some documents from them. According to police, one of the rebels confessed that the money was brought from Hojai’s residence. Hojai was missing for the last two months and surfaced early this week here after a case was filed against him for allegedly misappropriating NCHAC funds. The DHD guerrillas have unleashed a reign of terror in the North Cachar Hills district areas for the past several months. Since March 18, more than 30 people have been killed in a series of attacks by DHD rebels in the hilly areas. Over 2,000 people belonging to both Dimasa and Zeme Naga tribes are now taking shelter in six relief camps opened by the district administration after their houses were set ablaze by the militants.

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