Sunday, November 21, 2010

Maoist threat to NE looming large

R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, Nov 21 – Though the Maoist rebel groups are yet to gain strong foothold in Assam and other parts of the North-east region to indulge in violence like in some other parts of the country, the threat to the region cannot be overlooked as there have been intelligence reports of the Maoists trying to establish roots in this part of the country.

Highly-placed sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Assam Tribune that the Maoist rebel groups have already established links with some of the militant groups of North-east and there are definite inputs that they would try to establish their bases in the region.

Sources pointed out that the Maoists have already signed a joint agreement with the Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF) of Manipur to support each other and “honour the sovereignty of Manipur and India” and according to reports, members of Maoist rebel groups even visited Manipur and Nagaland. There have been reports of a few Maoist rebels visiting Myanmar where a number of militant groups of North-east have their strong bases. But it is still not known whether the Maoist rebels went to Myanmar just to meet the militant leaders of North-east or for training.

MHA sources said that the Maoist groups have links with the NSCN (I-M) and there were definite information of NSCN leaders attending a meeting of the Maoists in Chattisgarh. Security agencies also believe that the rebel groups of NE supplied weapons to the Maoists, but senior NSCN leader Anthony Shimrey, who has been arrested recently in Nepal by the National Investigating Agency (NIA) on charges of gun running, claimed during questioning that he was not involved in supplying of weapons to the Maoist rebel groups.

On the threat perception in Assam, sources said that the Maoist rebels have openly supported all the “nationality struggles” all over the country including in Assam and Jammu and Kashmir. Senior Maoist leader Kishenji had openly supported the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) in an interview to the mouthpiece of the Maoists. But it is still not known whether the Maoists managed to gain foothold in Assam. “But as it is an established fact that Maoist rebels visited Manipur, Nagaland and even Myanmar and one can only assume that they must have visited Assam at some point of time,” sources pointed out.

Sources revealed that in 2006, the Maoists formed a lower Assam committee but that could not be sustained. However, there were reports of individuals from Assam attending a meeting of the committee for release of political prisoners formed by the Maoist groups, which indicate that the Maoists have their connections in Assam, sources added.

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