GUWAHATI, SEPTEMBER 20: Abundance of illegal weapons in almost all Northeastern states has become a major cause of concern for the security forces, while, the problem may aggravate as the fund starved militant groups have reportedly started selling off some weapons to criminal elements.
Though some common criminals are using country made weapons manufactured in Bihar, most criminal groups including poachers are now mostly using sophisticated weapons, which has become a matter of serious concern for the security agencies. The issue was discussed in the recent meeting of the heads of the police forces of the states of Northeast, held at Dimapur. It was decided that all the police forces of the region would work in a coordinated manner to deal with the problem so that a concerted effort can be launched to seize the illegal weapons.
Security sources told The Assam Tribune that almost all the Northeastern militant groups have abundance of weapons, mostly AK series rifles and small arms like pistols. There were times when they faced shortage of ammunition, but of late, there is no input of the militants facing any such shortage. In fact, according to reports available with the security agencies, most Northeastern militant groups have more weapons than the number of trained cadres to handle it. Moreover, in recent times, most militant groups have almost stopped engaging the security forces in encounters and their activities are mostly limited to planting of explosives.
Sources said that most of the ultra groups are also facing severe financial crunch. Giving some such examples, sources said that outfits like the United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) and the National Democratic Front of Boroland (S) have to pay the NSCN (K) for keeping their cadres in Myanmar.
After the operations by Myanmar Army, the members of the militant groups were compelled to stay in the Naga villages in Myanmar but they are not in a position to make necessary payments as the sources of their funds are drying up and people are not ready to respond to the extortion demands of the ultras. Under the circumstances, the militants are forced to sell off some of their weapons to raise money and there have been instances where even poachers managed to procure weapons from the militants to kill rhinos.
Security sources said that though the militant groups under cease fire agreement deposited their weapons, no one is quite sure whether they deposited all the weapons. Moreover, the NSCN (IM), which is talking with the Government since 1997, is yet to deposit the weapons. That’s why the possibility of such outfits selling off weapons to criminal groups also cannot be ruled out. Some members of the National Liberation Front of Tripura, which recently signed a peace pact with the Government, admitted before the security agencies that they sold off some weapons when the outfit faced severe financial crunch.
Meanwhile, sources said that over the years, the routes used by the militants to bring in arms to the region have changed. In recent years, there has been no instance of the militants bringing in weapons through Bangladesh and in most cases, weapons are brought in through the porous international border with Myanmar. (Courtesy: AT)