Army likely to be withdrawn from Assam soon

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GUWAHATI, JANUARY 20: Assam may witness gradual withdrawal of the Army soon as militancy is on the wane. However, it will depend on the overall law and order situation in the next few months.
Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that after the National Democratic Front of Boroland (S) came overground to hold talks with the Government of India, the United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) remains the only major militant outfit active and the situation does not warrant deployment of the Army all over the State.
The Centre is of the view that as the situation is fast improving; the State Police should deal with the situation with the help of the Central paramilitary forces. However, it is likely that the Central and State Governments will monitor the situation before going for withdrawal of the Army in a phased manner. The Army was deployed for counter-insurgency operations in the State in November, 1990.
On the strength of the militant groups at present, sources said that after the NDFB(S) headed by B Saoraigwra came overground, militancy in the State received a major blow.
However, a group of the NDFB(S) headed by G Bidai and Batha are still at large and they are suspected to be moving around somewhere along the Assam-Bhutan border areas. Both the Government and the leadership of the NDFB(S) are trying to get in touch with them so that they can also be brought to the negotiation table. “The Government is of the view that leaving a handful of people outside may lead to formation of another splinter group. That is why efforts are on to bring everyone on board for a comprehensive solution of the problem,” sources added.
Sources said that though the ULFA(I) is still active, the strength of the outfit is also dwindling after the operations by the Myanmar Army against the members of the Northeast-based outfit taking shelter in that country. The strength of the ULFA (I) in Myanmar is now estimated to be around 150 members, but the outfit does not have any permanent camp in Myanmar. Most of the cadres are living in the Naga villages in Myanmar with the help of NSCN (K), while, they have a few makeshift shelters near the international border. Only around 10 to 12 members of the outfit are suspected to be in India. With extortions coming down drastically, the members of the outfit are finding it hard to sustain in Myanmar, sources added.
Apart from the ULFA (I), 2 smaller outfits, each having around 20 members, are active in Dima Hasao and Karbi Anglong, sources added. (Courtesy: AT)