Agartala, July 2 (Calcutta Tube) In a blow to the outlawed All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF), 13 top leaders of the separatist outfit Friday surrendered to the Assam Rifles authorities here.
The Bangladesh-trained tribal guerrillas also deposited a huge cache of sophisticated arms, ammunition and explosives at a simple ceremony here at the Assam Rifles sector headquarters.
‘The ATTF extremists, led by their self-style captain Jagdish Debbarma, crossed over to India Tuesday night before they made a contact with the Border Security Force (BSF) at Khasiamangal in western Tripura,’ BSF deputy inspector general A.K. Garg told reporters.
The BSF handed over the militants to Assam Rifles, the counter-insurgency trained paramilitary troopers who have successfully brought back hundreds of insurgents into the mainstream over the years in the northeastern state.
The terrorists, all dreaded militants and involved in a number of violent activities in Tripura over the years, have deposited 11 AK-series rifles, two Self Loading Rifles (SLR), one INSAS rifle, one 303 rifle, 25 loaded magazines and 25 kg explosives to the senior Assam Rifles officers.
Addressing the surrender ceremony, Tripura Director General of Police (DGP) K. Salim Ali said: ‘The so-called leaders of the terrorists have been leading a lavish lifestyle in Bangladesh, they are misguiding the common militants, who are living in jungles taking a meagre meal once in a day and spending a subhuman life.’
‘We would withdraw all cases except crime against women pending against the surrendered militants. All of you (those who are still in insurgency) join the mainstream for the betterment of society, your family besides for the interest of your future generations,’ the police chief told the surrendered rebels.
This year, according to the DGP, around 110 militants of the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) and ATTF outfits left Bangladesh and surrendered to the Indian security forces.
According to an official document, over 8,000 tribal guerrillas have surrendered to the authorities in Tripura since 1993.
‘We are expecting that more Bangladesh-trained northeast India militants would escape from that country and either cross over to India or elsewhere as the Bangladesh security continue their crackdown against the Indian extremists taking shelter in that country,’ Ali told IANS after the surrender ceremony.
The ATTF and NLFT have been demanding independence for indigenous tribals and the secession of Tripura from India.
According to the BSF and other security officials, militants belonging to various rebel groups in the northeast region have set up about 90 camps in different parts of Bangladesh, specially Sylhet district and Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), bordering Tripura, Mizoram and Meghalaya.
After the Awami League government led by Sheikh Hasina came to power in Bangladesh in December 2008, security forces of that country launched a massive crackdown against the northeast India militants.
The Bangladesh authorities have also handed over several top leaders of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) to India.