Less than 24 hours after unidentified miscreants set on fire as many as crude oil eight tankers close to the Assam-Arunachal border in Changlang district, the police have attributed the incident to the NSCN(IM) whose cadres are active in the area alongside NSCN(K) and the Paresh Barua faction of ULFA.
“We have confirmed that the tankers were set afire by some NSCN(IM) cadres who were probably trying to extort money from the tanker-owners. We have also identified the cadres responsible for the act,” Eastern Assam DIGP RP Meena said.
The tankers were set on fire by a group of miscreants on Tuesday evening while they were in a convoy and carrying crude oil from the Kharsang oilfield in Arunachal Pradesh to the Digboi Refinery. Kharsang is about 60 km from Digboi, the world’s oldest running oil refinery established in 1901.
The miscreants had carried diesel in plastic bottles which they sprinkled on the tankers before setting them on fire, the DIG said. The incident took place between Namphai and Tinkupani reserved forests inside Arunachal Pradesh territory, he said.
Local reports said the miscreants, armed with sophisticated weapons, stopped the tankers, threatened the drivers and asked them to run away, before setting them on fire. Some of the drivers and other staff in the tankers were also assaulted and their mobile phones snatched, reports said.
“Additional forces have been deployed and tankers have started moving from the oilfield to Digboi,” DIG Meena said. Police meanwhile have arrested one NSCN(K) cadre from Jagun in Tinsukia district while he was trying to extort money from some local traders, he added.
Militants belonging to different groups – NSCN(K), NSCN(IM), ULFA and PLA – have been active in Jagun, Pengeri, Ledo, Lekhapani and other areas of Tinsukia district adjoining Tirap, Longding and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh. Unofficial reports say the groups have been extorting money from the local people including villagers who have recently harvested their paddy.
Meanwhile, security forces have apprehended three NSCN cadres from Changlang and Longding districts of Arunachal Pradesh in the last 24 hours. Informing this Kohima-based Defence PRO Colonel Chiranjeet Konwer said that while NSCN(IM) cadre Kejen Ngongpa and NSCN(K) cadres Bishnu Bhujel were apprehended from Changlang, Wangnyai Wangsu an overground worker of the NSCN(IM) was picked up from Longding.
“Security forces have been carrying out relentless operations in south Arunachal Pradesh and this operation has struck a blow to the criminal and extortion activities being carried out by the militants in the area,” Col Konwer said.