Four days after three cadres of the outlawed National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT-BM) were arrested in Tripura, four more laid down their arms before the state police and Assam Rifles.
In a statement issued on Friday, Assistant Inspector-General of Police (Law and Order) Subrata Chakraborty said the four outlaws fled the Silachari NLFT camp in the Bagaichari area of Rangamati district in neighbouring Bangladesh on January 31. They later got in touch with state police’s special branch and the Assam Rifles, voicing their willingness to return to the mainstream, Chakraborty added.
Two of them were brought to the Special Branch headquarters in Agartala while the remaining two were taken to the North district for interrogation, police said.
Preliminary investigation reveals that the four joined the NLFT at its Bangladesh camp in 2018 and 2019, the statement said, adding that the cadres, during interrogation, said that they decided to return after realising that the so-called armed insurgency for a sovereign Tripura is a ‘farce’.
“(The) NLFT is grappling with serious financial and organisational crises. They (the cadres) were also fed up with how they were forced into ‘jhum’ cultivation and other hard labour at the expense of their commanders who lead luxurious lives,” the statement said, detailing what the police learned during interrogation of the returnees. They said they returned not only because of the weakening insurgency but also because they were encouraged to do so by the government and police.
The returnees were identified as 20-year-old Sethi Debbarma alias Behari alias Samaj, 18-year-old Rajib Debbarma alias Ashlang, 21-year-old Bisharam Debbaa alias Lalong and 27-year-old Zawmina Reang alias Maifang, hailing from Khowai, Sepahijala and North Tripura districts. The surrender comes two months after Director General of Tripura Police VS Yadav said on December 24, last year that the NLFT was cash-strapped, short of cadres and desperately trying to recruit new hands.
The DGP followed up his statement with the announcement of the surrender of four top NLFT commanders of the Biswamohan outfit —- assistant foreign secretary Rathan Kalai alias Reuben, assistant organising secretary Joy Sadhan Jamatia alias Jara, assistant publicity and information secretary Madhu Ranjan Noatia alias Yafung and deputy chief of army staff Kukila Tripura alias Yarung.
Banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in 1997, the NLFT has been involved in violence orchestrated from across the international border. Its armed insurgency is deemed to have resulted in the death of 28 security force personnel and 62 civilians between 2005 and 2015. Peace talks with the banned outfit were initiated in 2015 and there have been no incidents of violence since 2016. Tripura shares an 856-km-long international border with Bangladesh, of which around 67 km area is unfenced.