By Oyindrila Chattopadhyay*

On December 17, 2021, Jackson Ronghang, the ‘chairman’ of the newly floated militant Karbi Democratic Liberation Entrance (KDLF), was killed in an encounter within the Rongmongve space of Karbi Anglong District, Assam. A search operation was launched on December 17 after receiving leads about Ronghang being current in Rongmongve. Throughout the operation, a gunfight ensued, resulting in Ronghang’s killing, whereas others fled the spot. A pistol, ammunition and several other incriminating paperwork had been recovered from the possession of the slain militant. Jackson Ronghang was a former Karbi Folks’s Liberation Tiger (KPLT) cadre, who floated KDLF in 2021.

Earlier, on December 10, three staff from a development website in Rongmongwe block of Karbi Anglong District had been kidnapped. Subsequently, one individual, recognized as Amarjyoti Terang, was arrested in reference to the kidnapping. Following his interrogation, the involvement of the KDLF ‘chairman’ and others was disclosed and one of many kidnapped staff was rescued on December 13. The others are but to be traced. The SFs had been after Ronghang since Terang’s disclosures.

On October 1, 2021, 5 suspected militants, recognized as Akhui Kashung, Ngmpoi, Wungreingam, Ashang Chithung and Lanchungrei Kamei had been arrested together with an enormous cache of arms and ammunition from the Naharjan space alongside the Assam-Nagaland border in Karbi Anglong District. Three AK- 56 rifles with 75 rounds of ammunition and a pistol with eight rounds was recovered from them.

On August 27, 2021, 4 suspected militants had been arrested at Gharialdubi village of Bokajan city in Karbi Anglong District. The arrestees, recognized as Raju Ghatowar, Krishna Orang, Lokesh Kangari and Robert, had been detained together with a rifle, three pistols, a Chinese language grenade, and ammunition.

On March 2, 2021, a militant belonging to the Dimasa Nationwide Liberation Military (DNLA) was arrested together with a Chinese language grenade from Diphu in Karbi Anglong District. The arrestee recognized as Pinak Sutradhar aka Biju Sutradhar had deliberate to assault the Diphu Railway Station with the grenade.

Since March 6, 2020, when South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), began compiling information on insurgencies within the Northeast, 268 terrorists of assorted outfits have been killed in Karbi Anglong District. 12 of those fatalities had been reported in 2021 (information until December 19, 2021). Throughout this era, one other 828 terrorists of assorted outfits have been arrested, together with 12 in 2021. The mounting stress has resulted within the give up of 716 terrorists, together with 30 in 2021.

In lower than 5 years, between March 6, 2000, and December 31, 2005, 339 civilians had been killed in district, together with an all-time excessive of 99 in 2005. Alternatively, within the subsequent nearly  16 years, the district has recorded 108 fatalities, together with 51 in 2007 alone. Nevertheless, three civilian fatalities have bene recorded within the present yr, as towards no fatality in 2020.

The district has recorded no fatality within the Safety Drive (SF) class since July 20, 2014, when one Assam Police Constable was killed within the Doldoli Reserve Forest space of Karbi Anglong District.

Karbi Anglong is located within the central a part of Assam, thought-about to be the melting pot of ethnicities and tribal teams — Karbi, Dimasa, Bodo, Kuki, Hmar, Tiwa, Garo, Man (Tai audio system), and Rengma Naga. As a consequence of these numerous ethnicities, the district has a protracted historical past of ethnic tensions, and this has been exploited by rebel teams of which a number of began working within the district. However resulting from incessant SF stress, the rebel formations have step by step weakened.  

As on date, 12 rebel outfits which within the district and round it, have been introduced into ceasefire agreements/peace talks and/or have been disbanded. Most not too long ago, on September 4, 2021, the Authorities of India (GoI) signed the Karbi Accord with six Karbi militant formations: Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Entrance (KLNLF), Folks’s Democratic Council of Karbi-Longri (PDCK), United Folks’s Liberation Military (UPLA), Karbi Folks’s Liberation Tigers-Mensing-Kramsa (KPLT-M), KPLT-Ceasefire (KPLT-C) and KPLT-Run Rongpi (KPLT-R).

On September 7, 2021, following this settlement, DNLA declared a unilateral ceasefire “as a goodwill gesture and a constructive response to the decision for peace” by Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. Later, on September 24, 2021, the ‘chairman’ of DNLA, Edika Diphusa aka Kharmindao Dimasa, his deputy Juddychan Haflongbar, and ‘common secretary’ Prithamjit Jidongsa aka Galao Dimasa, got here overground. Assam Training Minister Ranoj Pegu in a Tweeted,

Peace isn’t illusive (sic) once we stroll the additional mile. Dimasa Nationwide Liberation Military (DNLA), an armed outfit of Assam’s hill districts, got here out from jungle at this time. We welcome them to a dialogue and hope for everlasting resolution and peace.

Additional, on September 12, UPLA disbanded after eight years of armed battle, and 378 UPLA cadres are all set to return to their properties.

However, issues persist. Three civilians have been killed within the present yr. In distinction, between 2015 and 2020, solely two civilians had been killed, one every in 2016 and 2019. On Might 19, 2021, DNLA militants killed Sanjoy Ronghang, a priest, within the Dhansiri Police outpost space of Karbi Anglong District, including to ethnic tensions within the space.

Karbi Anglong District has emerged as one of many main provide routes for the cross-border drug commerce. In response to Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, medicine value 1.63 billion had been seized within the district in two months (Might and June) of 2021 alone. In a single current seizure, as an illustration, on November 16, Police recovered 1.77 kilograms of Heroin and arrested two drug peddlers in Karbi Anglong District. Considerably, the drug commerce in India’s Northeast has established terrorist linkages. Certainly, on October 26, 2021, ‘deputy kilonser (deputy minister)’ of the Nationwide Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM), R.Okay. Hopingson, was injured in a gunfight between the Police and drug traffickers within the Nagaon District of Assam. 303 grams of Heroin was seized from him. Throughout interrogation, he revealed that he had been concerned within the drug commerce since 2012. Confirming the nexus, the Director-Common of Assam Police Bhaskarjyoti Mahanta, famous, “non-state actors in Dimapur, the business hub of Nagaland, are a serious a part of the issue of drug trafficking and abuse in Assam.”

Furthermore, quickly after the signing of the Peace Accord between Karbi militant teams and GoI, which was heralded as an historic step to usher in peace, protests erupted in Karbi Anglong District. The Accord said that GoI and the Authorities of Assam would take crucial steps to order 34 seats for the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and 10 seats underneath the Open class for all communities, out of 44 elected seats in KAAC. It appears that evidently, by dividing the seats between Karbi [including other STs] on one hand, and 10 common seats, on the opposite, within the KAATC to be fashioned, the Authorities sought to stability the pursuits of each the teams. Nevertheless, the choice to create 10 common seats upset some civil society teams primarily based within the districts, who feared a lack of political dominance. Certainly, on September 5, 2021, protestors from 24 civil society teams, also called 24+, demonstrated alongside the Diphu-Manja Highway, shouting slogans and burning tyres in entrance of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Celebration-East Karbi Anglong District Council. Their principal objection was to the addition of 10 seats that may be open for all communities. Additional, on September 8, 2021, the Autonomous State Demand Committee, a political get together, and two civil teams – Karbi Nimso Chingthur Asong (Karbi Ladies’s Affiliation) and Karbi College students’ Affiliation – expressed disappointment with the Accord within the absence of the implementation of Article 244, which envisages the creation of an ‘autonomous state’ inside Assam with an area legislature or Council of Ministers. The principle and long-standing demand for an autonomous state inside Assam underneath Article 244 of the Structure, has not been conceded within the Accord. Additional, on September 12, 2021, UPLA ‘chairman’ Sorjon Lo-eh, reacting to the protests by 24+, declared, “we’re not placing a full cease to the Autonomous State demand by signing the Peace Accord,” as was being propagated by 24+ in Karbi Anglong. He added, “we’ve stored the door open for negotiating the statehood demand” as “we’ve realised that we can not attain statehood via armed revolution.” The implementation of the Accord, consequently, is prone to stay an uphill job and should properly open a Pandora’s field resulting in new safety threats.    

With concern rising over these challenges, the State Authorities has sanctioned the deployment of 5 new Assam Commando Battalions underneath the Assam Police, together with the third Assam Commando Battalion (Operations) at Doldoli in Karbi Anglong. After the approval of Chief Minister Sarma and the State Finance Division, the House Division issued 5 notifications on this regard to strengthen the general safety community throughout Assam. Accordingly, 800 posts, together with each gazetted and non-gazetted posts, have been created within the 5 new Battalions – 2nd Assam Commando Battalion (Operations) at Birsima in Hailakandi District of Barak Valley; third Assam Commando Battalion (Operations) at Doldoli in Karbi Anglong; 4th Assam Commando Battalion (Operations) at Geleki, Kalabari in Sivasagar; fifth Assam Commando Battalion (City Operations and Regulation & Order) at Pabhoi at Biswanath; and the sixth Assam Commando Battalion (City Operations and Regulation & Order) at Ambikapur in Sadiya underneath Tinsukia District.

Karbi Anglong District is an amalgam of various ethnic and tribal teams. As a consequence of its variety, the district has been marred by ethnic conflicts and militancy. The Authorities has taken quite a few initiatives to include violence and convey the militants again into the mainstream, together with a number of peace accords This has helped dramatically scale back militant actions. The rise in anti-insurgent operations has impacted on the rebels’ capacities and can to maintain violence. Nevertheless, safety challenges persist, and the district’s emergence as a transit route for the thriving narco-terrorism commerce, together with the emergence of newly fashioned outfits like KDLF, calls for pressing monitoring. Taking the peace accord to its logical conclusion would additionally deal with a few of the drivers of alienation and violence within the area.

*Oyindrila Chattopadhyay
Analysis Affiliate, Institute for Battle Administration

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