An ebb in militancy has seen a simultaneous rise in public confidence in Assam,where people of late have not only been resisting extortion attempts but also been capturing militants and handing them over to the police.
The latest two of such incidents,both in Karbi Anglong district,have seen four militants apprehended by people after they had come to collect money. Before locals handed them over to the police,they beat up the militants in both cases.
Other such incidents have been reported from districts once militancy-hit,such as Baska,Chirang,Kokrajhar and Barpeta. Police and security forces,too,are now finding it easier to apprehend militants because people have been reporting their movements more frequently.
The dominant factions of major groups ULFA and NDFB have joined the peace process,while many other groups have signed truce pacts with the government in the recent few years. Some of the militants nabbed by people in various districts belonged to the anti-talk factions of ULFA and the NDFB. The four extortionists apprehended in Karbi Anglong belonged to a group called Karbi Peoples Liberation Tigers.
Even members of the pro-talk factions sometimes attempt extortion,but some of them have paid the price. Last year two militants,one belonging to the pro-talk NDFB faction and the other to the pro-talk ULFA faction,were apprehended by the public and beaten to death rather than being handed over to the police. Hala Boro of the NDFB militant was killed in Tamulpar in Baska district,and Bijay Das alias Sailen Medhi of the ULFA in Krishnai in Goalpara district.
That the situation has changed,and so has the mindset of the people vis-à-vis militancy,can be easily seen from this recent trend, said a senior Army officer engaged in counter-insurgency operations. Assam Police director-general Jayanta Narayan Choudhury said the police and security forces are also getting more inputs from the public than ever before.
Extortion attempts have not yet ended totally. Some militant groups still send extortion notes to businessmen and others in some areas,including Guwahati City. In Tinsukia district last week,a nursing home received an extortion note from the anti-talk ULFA faction headed by Paresh Barua.