Tripura Assessment

Half Yearly Assessment

2011

Tripura remained peaceful during the first six months of 2011. Only a few stray incidents of violence were reported from the state during this period, mostly involving the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT). In the internal security conference in New Delhi on February 1, 2011, Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said that Tripura has witnessed a steady decline in insurgency over the past four years. He said that only 22 militant attacks were recorded in 2010, whereas 113 attacks in 2007, 80 in 2008 and 24 in 2009. The record revealed there was no civilian casualty in 2010 but two civilians were killed and 29 civilians were injured in 2009 in militant attack. As many as ten encounters were recorded in the state in 2010.

Some of the significant incidents in the first six months of 2011 are:

January 30: A heavily armed team of NLFT militants sneaks inside Indian Territory. The team was led by ‘self styled leader’ Bumthung Halam and comprises of 17-18 cadres armed with sophisticated weapons.

January 31: NLFT militants gun down an official of National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), identified as C N Muni and injured his driver at a remote tribal village near the Indo-Bangladesh border in North Tripura district.

June 7: Suspected NLFT insurgents kidnapped eight tribal people from the remote Gontuisa village in Tripura’s Dhalai district bordering Bangladesh.

On January 5, 2011, Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said that despite Bangladesh Security Force’s offensive against militants of Northeast India, they still have their camps in the neighbouring country. He said that it is difficult to completely contain the militants because they use the soil of Bangladesh, get help from Pakistan and sneak into Indian Territory taking the advantage of hilly terrain and unfenced border.

On January 15, a local newspaper reported that huge tracts of the State have been turned into ‘free area’ of NLFT along the Tripura-Bangladesh international borderline under Gandacherra Sub-division of Dhalai district. A heavily armed militant team is regularly moving in and out of the Indo-Bangla border along Naraichari area near border pillar no. 2268 and 2269 under Boyalkhali village in Raisyabari area. The team, led by self-styled NLFT ‘leader’ Atharobabu Halam alias Babu Halam and Laltina Darlong have reportedly divided into two platoons to take control on localities under Raisyabari and Gandacherra Police Stations. Recruitment rallies of NLFT were held in several areas of the locality namely Nunacherra, Jagabandhupara, Bhagirathpara, Ratannagar during 2009 and 2010.

Cadres of the insurgent groups continued to surrender to the security forces. On January 1, 2011, five All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) cadres, including a woman, surrendered to Border Security Force (BSF) at Panisagar in North Tripura district. Again on May 16, 2011, nine NLFT militants, led by their self-styled captain Patanjoy Tripura alias Prabhash, crossed over to India from their camp in Bangladesh and surrendered to the Assam Rifles officers at Chawmanu in north Tripura.

The NLFT, however, continued its subversive activities in the state. On January 31, 2011, NLFT militants gunned down an official of National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), identified as C N Muni and injured his driver at a remote tribal village near the Indo-Bangladesh border in North Tripura district. On June 7, 2011, suspected NLFT militants kidnapped eight tribal people from the remote Gontuisa village in Tripura’s Dhalai district bordering Bangladesh. The NLFT also got a boost on February 2, 2011, when about 14-15 dissented cadres of the ATTF, headed by its self-styled ‘home minister’ Sachin Debberma, joined the NLFT.

On April 28, 2011, Tripura Government declared that all the promises offered at the time of signing a tripartite peace accord with NLFT – Nayanbasi Jamatiya faction (NLFT-NB) on December 17, 2004 were fulfilled. Bhuchuk Borok, vice president of the NLFT-NB who remained present in the review meeting, praised the Ministry of Home Affairs and State Government for being sincere in fulfilling the peace accord promises.

The situation in Tripura has remained calm over the last few years. A few sprinkling of insurgency-related incidents are still occurring in the state. Once that is in control, Tripura is sure to become a perfect example of a state which has completely defeated insurgency through its counter-insurgency operations.

Yearly Assessment

2010

Tripura has remained peaceful during the last few years. The insurgency-related incidents have gone down drastically. During 2010, only 3 casualties were reported in the state in insurgency-related violence. The insurgent outfits in the state have weakened over the years but they are not totally inactive and are involved in a few incidents of violence.

The National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) is the only militant group in the state which is quite active. The All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) and the Borok National Council of Tripura (BNCT) have become almost inactive with most of its cadres surrendering to the security forces. The surrender of cadres of militant outfit continued in 2010. The highest numbers of surrenders were from NLFT with 79 of its cadres surrendering. Others include ATTF - 28 and Bru Liberation Front of Mizoram (BLFM) – 20. In all, 127 militants surrendered in 2010. On June 16, 2010, Chief Minister of Tripura, Manik Sarkar informed the state assembly that a total of 7992 insurgents, including those of the NLFT and ATTF, have surrendered to the authorities during the last 17 years from May 1993 to June 2010.

Some of the significant incidents of 2010 were:

May 22: A group of 10 NLFT insurgents raided Shermoon village and demanded 20 per cent of wages from 123 NREGA workers. The insurgents fled after a team of Tripura State Rifles (TSR) jawans reached the village.

May 24: A group of NLFT militants clashed with TSR jawans at Satraipara in Dhalai district when the militants were trying to sneak into the village for extortion of NREGA funds.

August 6: NLFT militants kill two BSF personnel by triggering off an improvised explosive device (IED) at a remote place adjacent to the Indo-Bangla border in Dhalai district.

August 30: NLFT abducts five tribal Villagers from remote Shukraichari area under Gandacherra sub-division of Dhalai district.

September 11: Three NLFT militants were arrested by the BSF from North district along India-Bangladesh border.

Security forces continued their operations against the militants. They were also able to recover arms and ammunitions from the militants. On March 13, 2010, two locally made guns and ammunitions were recovered from two separate places in the South district of the state. A locally made gun, AK-47 ammunition and 19 tax collection receipts of the NLFT were also found in the Khambar Para area in the South district.

NLFT is still engaged in incidents of extortion and abductions in the state. On January 24, 2010, seven tribal workers of the CPM were critically injured after being beaten up by a group of NLFT militants for refusing to pay them “tax”. On August 30, 2010, NLFT abducted five tribals from remote Shukraichari area under Gandacherra sub-division of Dhalai district. Again on September 14, 2010, the outfit abducted three youths from Dashaharpara village under Raisyabari Police Station in Dhalai district. On December 8, 2010, the NLFT militants attacked a temporary shed of labourers at Govindabari village of Dhalai district and abducted 11 construction workers at gunpoint.

On the other hand, the ATTF split into two on December 26, 2010. On that day, three top leaders of the outfit – its self styled president Ranjit Debbarma, armed wing chief Chitta Debbarma and central committee member Rahul Debbarma were ousted from the outfit in a coup led by Sachin Reang. He declared himself to be the acting president of the ATTF and in a statement to media houses said that Ranjit Debbarma, Chitta Debbarma and Rahul Debbarma were indulging in large scale financial corruption and acting like dictators.

The state is now facing a problem in terms of rehabilitation of the surrendered cadres of the militant groups. On March 24, 2010, over 1,200 surrendered cadres of the NLFT and ATTF launched a 72-hour hunger protest demonstration in Tripura, asking the Government rehabilitate them. They are seeking immediate economic rehabilitation of all former insurgents.

The state of Tripura has achieved peace and stability as a result of successful counter-insurgency operations. Insurgency is almost on a wane in the state except for a few sporadic incidents of violence. Except NLFT, there is no major insurgent group in the state to pose a threat to the administration. The success of the counter-insurgency operations in Tripura can act as a model for other states in the region to contain insurgency.