Thursday, June 20, 2024
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The arms headache

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Curfew is imposed and relaxed alternately in Kokhrajhar as tension continues between Bodos and Muslims in the region. The Union Home Ministry has sent instructions to the Assam government to mount an operation for seizing all illegal arms and ammunition in Bodoland district. Two major arms hauls have been made, one on the outskirts of Guwahati and the other on the Meghalaya border. Assam Director General of Police Jayanta Narayan Choudhury has admitted that a large number of illegal weapons is floating in the state. The bulk of them come from Dimapur, some from West Bengal, Bihar and other parts of Central India. A number of foreign made weapons have also been found. Some of the arms are in the possession of militants groups which have decided to start peace talks with the Centre. Recently some AK47s have been seized at the residence of a former Bodoland Liberation Tiger leader who is now an executive member of the Bodoland Territorial Council.

Official estimates put the number of illegal weapons in Assam in thousands, including AK47s and locally made guns. Not less than 1, 000 of them have been recovered in Assam since 2010. It is evident that the North-East has turned into an arms bazaar where illegal arms pour in from different parts of South-East Asia. The NSCN used to be the largest importer and it introduced sophisticated arms to other militant bodies like the ULFA and the NDFB. Chinese rifles have also been seized in large numbers. The anti-talks ULFA leader, Paresh Barua, who is operating on the China-Myanmanr border is a major arms dealer having easy access to Chinese arms. Certain quantities of arms have also been captured from the police and the security forces. Evidently the authorities are fully aware of the sources of illegal arms in Assam. But hauling them up is a different matter. Furthermore, the police and security forces should explore the clandestine means of acquiring money to buy such illegal arms.

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