Who said the Centre was playing the fool while the insurgents grew rife?
The Centre has demonstrated an ability to disarm, invalidate and conduct successful negotiations with multiple insurgent groups following their successes with the financial repatriation program for members of the ULFA. This even after the insurgency groups were subject to an unyielding act of will in the form of an unconditional, unequivocal ban and the notification that the toughest sections of the law will be applied against them and their front organisations of they do not give up violence, which incidentally, occurred with this offshoot of the Dima Halim Daogah in June this year.
For those who are unacquainted, a little history on the 'Black Widows', from the South Asia Terrorism Portal:
Black Widow (BW), a breakaway faction of the Dimasa outfit – Dima Halim Daogah (DHD), was formed in the aftermath of a coup by Pranab Nunisa, the DHD ‘military wing’ chief, against Jewel Garlossa, the then DHD president, on June 24, 2004. Nunisa, in a press statement, alleged that Garlossa had already formed a separate outfit on March 31, 2003, named Black Widow, which also has an armed wing.
Reports of a split within the BW surfaced with the arrest of a group of eight cadres in the Meghalaya capital Shillong on October 15, 2007. The breakaway group is led by Action Dimasa, the third in the hierarchy in the outfit. Dimasa was suspected to have killed one of the wives of Jewel Garlossa in August 2007 and had been on the run since then to avoid being eliminated. The arrested cadres of the breakaway faction were in Shillong to buy arms for the outfit.
The outfit claims to fight for safeguarding the identity of the Dimasa tribe. Its declared objective is to create a separate homeland, within the Constitution of India, for the Dimasa tribe comprising the Dimasa-dominated areas such as the North Cachar Hills (NC Hills), Cachar and Karbi Anglong districts of Assam and parts of the Dimapur district in Nagaland.
Leadership and Cadre
Jewel Garlossa heads the BW while Phaiprang Dimasa is the outfit's ‘publicity secretary’.
The outfit's deputy commander-in-chief Franky Dimasa was arrested on March 22, 2008 from the Fatasil Ambari area of Guwahati city. His arrest followed a statement by arrested 'area commander' of the outfit Daniel Garlossa who had arrived in Guwahati from Dimapur in Nagaland by the Brahmaputra mail, along with Dimasa. Garlossa had been arrested on March 18, 2008.
The BW, according to official sources, is estimated to have a cadre-strength of about 300 militants, 100 of whom are believed to be armed with AK series rifles and a handful of Rocket Propelled Grenade launchers.
Area of operation
The outfit operates primarily in the NC Hills district, one of the biggest districts covering an area of 4980 sq km. It is also active in the Cachar and the Nagaon districts and has a strong presence in the Dimasa inhabited areas of Dhansiri area in the Karbi Anglong district.
The BW militants currently enjoy a free run in the North Cachar Hills district and have engaged in periodic violence. In fact, all the 13 security forces (SF) casualties in the district in 2006 were ascribed to the Black Widow. The outfit also accounted for seven civilian casualties. The SF presence and operations in the district appear to have little impact on the Black Widow, as not a single cadre from this group figured in the six militant fatalities recorded in the district in 2006. Black Widow has periodically set up clashes with DHD cadres and has been able to establish an upper hand in the NC Hills. More than half of the militant fatalities in the district have been due to the internecine clashes between the two groups.
On June 8, 2007, Assam Police sources said that the BW is trying to extend its area of operation to the northeastern flank of Cachar district. Sources also revealed that nearly two dozen people living in the Harinagar and Jaipur enclaves along Cachar’s northeastern boundary with North Cachar had received extortion notices. The notices, either sent by post or hand-delivered, demand amounts between INR 50,000 and INR 5 lakh.
The group indulges in extortion and abduction for ransom that comprises a major source of financial support.
This group also receives aid from wealthy Dimasas residing in various places of Assam.
The BW group is reportedly targeting the tea gardens owners, Government servants and the contractors involved in various development projects, including the gauge conversion project of the Indian Railways, the National Highway project, projects of the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation, etc. Two national projects- the Silchar-Lumding Railway Gauge Conversion and the Express Highway- have been hampered badly due to rampant extortion by the BW cadres.
The groups also extorts money from various leaders and activists belonging to the Congress party and others. For instance, BW militants killed the former Chief Executive Member of the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council, Purnendu Langthasa, and a former executive member of the Council, Nindu Langthasa, at Langlai Hasnu village in the NC Hills district on June 4, 2007. Both were candidates of the ruling Congress party for the June 12-Autonomous District Council (ADC) election. The BW had been demanding an amount of INR 150 million from the party for the safety of its candidates for the elections. While claiming responsibility for the killing of Purnendu and Nindu, BW ‘publicity secretary’ Phaiprang Dimasa indicated that both had offered money after failing to adhere to the demand for reservation of constituencies in the ADC polls. On April 26, the outfit had apparently asked the party to reserve three of the five newly created constituencies for BW representatives and had warned against making any attempt to "buy peace". The Congress had decided to ‘allot’ only two.
Extortion activity linked to the Black Widow has been reported from the North Cachar Hills, Cachar and Karbi Anglong districts.
The Black Widow outfit reportedly has links with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) and is extending support to it. The NSCN- IM allegedly provides weaponry, training and shelter to the BW cadres in its camps. Dilip Nunisa, the DHD chief, has accused the NSCN-IM of training Black Widow cadres at Camp Hebron near Dimapur town in Nagaland. Reports have also revealed that the NSCN-IM receives a share of the extorted money collected by the Black Widow group.
Reports indicate that in exchange for a share of its funds, the Naga outfit trains and arms BW cadres. NSCN-IM facilities in Nagaland have also been used by the BW cadres during security force raids in the NC Hills. Apart from the flow of finances, links with the BW help the NSCN-IM maintain a crucial level of influence in the District, which forms a part of its ‘Greater Nagaland’ (Nagalim) project.
August 12: The Kolkata Police arrested two persons for allegedly supplying arms to the BW and recovered INR 2.38 hundred thousand in cash and several important documents. The duo, identified as Malsawm Kimi (31), of Ranhlun Vengthar in Aizawl, and George Lam Thang (31), of Electric Bazaar in Aizawl, were arrested from the Esplanade in the central part of the Kolkata, capital of West Bengal, adds Assam Tribune. According to an STF statement, the arrest of these two militants was due to information received from the National Investigation Agency which was ordered by the Union Government to probe the seizure of huge sums of cash in Assam in February and April 2009.
July 27: The Assam Government has ruled out renaming the North Cachar Hills District - one of the key demands raised by the BW outfit. The BW wants the District to be renamed as Dima Hasao. The Urban Development Minister D. P. Goala told Telegraph that a committee, headed by him and constituted to examine the issue, in its report submitted recently has pointed out the difficulties in renaming the District because non-Dimasas constitute the majority in the District. "We have examined every aspect of the proposal to rename the District. We have pointed out the difficulties in renaming the district as the Dimasas constitute only 43 per cent of the total population," Goala said. The other members of the committee include ministers Himanta Biswa Sarma and Rockybul Hussain. Home Commissioner R.K. Bora was the convenor of the committee, he added. Sources in the Chief Minister's office said renaming the District according to the BW's wishes would only escalate ethnic tension between the Dimasas and non-Dimasas in the District. The non-Dimasas are opposed to the name proposed by the BW.
July 12: The BW group served an extortion note of INR 20 million on the Kopili hydro-electric project of NEEPCO at Umrangsu in North Cachar Hills District. The note sent by post is the first major extortion demand of the outfit since the recent arrest of its ‘chief’ Jewel Gorlosa and ‘deputy commander-in-chief’ Partha Warisa. Umrangsu Police said the Deputy General Manager of NEEPCO, Tulsi Barua, had filed a complaint with Umrangsu Police Station in the same afternoon and handed over the extortion note.
July 2: The Union Government banned the BW outfit in the wake of its involvement in the recent violence in Assam. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security, headed by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.
June 25: Quoting highly placed security sources, Assam Tribune reported that the ULFA, anti-talks faction of the NDFB and the BW outfits have joined hands as they were under pressure from the on going operation against them by Security Forces. Sources said that at present ULFA cadres led by Hira Sarania are reportedly moving around in the areas bordering Bhutan in the Chirang and Baska Districts and they may try to trigger explosions with the help of the anti-talks faction of the NDFB. Sources also said the Black Widow group has established ties with the anti-talks faction of the NDFB.
June 16: Suspected BW militants shot dead 12 persons and set ablaze 20 houses in an attack at Michidui village under Haflong Police Station of North Cachar Hills District.
June 12: Quoting the confession of arrested BW chief Jewel Gorlosa, Telegraph reported that bamboo trade in the North Cachar Hills was one of the major money-spinners for the outfit. A senior Police official said the BW on an average was extorting INR five millions per month from bamboo merchants in the District. "Following the interrogation of Jewel Gorlosa and other members and sympathisers of the BW, it has come to light that the outfit has extorted money to the tune of several millions of rupees from the bamboo suppliers over the years," he said. "Ransom collected from contractors engaged in the projects and bamboo traders, and diversion of development funds allocated to the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council were the main sources of money for the BW," he added.
June 4: In a joint operation with the Karnataka Police, Assam Police arrested the 'chairman' and 'chief' of the BW outfit, Jewel Gorlosa, from Bangalore, capital of Karnataka.
Frankey Dimasa, the self-styled 'foreign secretary' of the banned BW outfit, was shot dead in an encounter with the Guwahati City Police in an unspecified area of the city. Three other BW militants, however, managed to escape under the cover of darkness.
June 3: Suspected BW militants shot dead five persons, including two children, and set ablaze 54 houses when they attacked Borchenam Basti, a Zeme Naga inhabited village under Haflong Police Station in the North Cachar Hills District.
May 19: Unidentified BW militants opened fired upon a heavily fortified goods train coming from Lumding and bound for Lower Haflong. The attack took place between Mahur and Phaiding railway stations in the same District. The SFs retaliated by firing about 10 rounds on the six-odd militants who fled away into the nearby hills. However, nobody was injured in the attack and no major damage or loss of property reported.
May 7: Black Widow BW militants blew up a goods train at a place between Diaojabra and Langting railway stations in North Cachar Hills District.
April 20: BW militants shot dead six persons, including five SF personnel, in an ambush on the convoy of a private cement company's vehicles in the North Cachar Hills District.
April 10: One CRPF constable was killed and 17 persons were injured when the BW militants opened indiscriminate fire on the Badarpur-Lumding Barak Express train.
April 8: A convoy of the Election Commission’s observers in North Cachar Hills District was ambushed by BW militants. Police said that Central Election Observer Arun Chandra Singh and his team were traveling in a five-vehicle convoy from District headquarter Haflong to Umrangshu when militants hiding inside the forest opened fire on the convoy at Jungum, about 20 kilometers from Haflong. However, no one was injured and neither was the vehicles damaged.
February 6: The BW militants abducted four employees of a Chennai-based company, the Indian Oil Tanking Limited, engaged in a seismic survey, from their work site in Langting area under Maibong Police Station in the North Cachar Hills District. According to the North Cachar Hills District Police, "a group of eight to 10 armed militants in military fatigue went to the Langting work site of the Eagle Marketing Corporation and taken away the four surveyors".
January 4: Three bogies of a goods train coming from Badarpur to Lumding were derailed and around 40 metres of track damaged, when the suspected BW militants triggered a bomb blast on the railway track between Harangajao and Mailongdisa railway stations in the North Cachar Hills District. Train services in the Hill section were affected due to the blast.
October 30: In separate incidents, BW militants killed at least seven police personnel at Langlai near Thujuari of North Cachar Hills district, reports Sentinel. Three militants were also killed in the retaliatory firing.
August 27: Around 30 NSCN-IM militants attacked a combined force of the NSCN-K and Black Widow (BW) militants between Jalukie and Phaijaing of Peren district in Nagaland. While the NSCN-IM sources said there was no casualty on their side, the rival group’s senior functionary, Singson Kuki, said two NSCN-IM cadres were injured. Police confirmed that there were no casualties.
June 28: Mizoram Police arrests two Assam-based Black Widow (BW) militants and six BLFM militants when they recovered arms, including 17 AK-47 and 56 rifles, and INR 9,84,000 in cash from a truck at Buichali village, 30 kilometres west of capital Aizawl.
May 16: Three suspected BW militants shot dead the president of the apex body of Bete tribe in the North Cachar Hills, J T Roya Ngamlai, at his residence in the Phiangpui village in the North Cachar Hills district.
May 11: A group of 10 armed BW militants shot dead eight labourers engaged in the construction of a railway quarters at Thoibasti in the North Cachar Hills district.
February 19: Five employees of a private cement factory, Vinay Cements, were killed while another was injured in an attack by the BW militants in the North Cachar Hills district.
January 14: Five persons, two security force personnel and three civilians were killed and another person was injured by the BW militants in Umrangsu town of the North Cachar Hills district.
November 27: Suspected BW militants shot dead 10 unidentified saw mill workers and injured eight others in two separate attacks at Bithorgaon under Umrangsho police station in the North Cachar Hills district. The militants set ablaze two saw mills and attacked the migrant labourers working there.
November 2: Seven CRPF personnel are killed in an ambush carried out by the Black Widow militants at Theijuri in the North Cachar Hills district.
October 15: Meghalaya Police arrested eight Black Widow militants from several places in Shillong town. They were identified as Ram Chetri, Jitan Das, David, Vimal Hansay, Sanjib Joshi, Dharam Chinthong, Nelson Teron and Martin Star. INR 35,000, pistols and several ammunitions were recovered from their possession
June 4: BW militants killed former Chief Executive Member of the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council, Purnendu Langthasa, and former executive member of the Council, Nindu Langthasa, at Langlai Hasnu village in the NC Hills district.
January 28: The cease-fire liaison office of the DHD is attacked by the rival Black Widow militants at Haflong in the NC Hills district and in the ensuing clash a Black Widow militant is killed.
October 6: At least 13 Railway Protection Force personnel are killed by in an ambush by the DHD militants belonging to the Black Widow faction in the North Cachar Hills district.
* 2009, September 14: The 'Black Widow' group agrees to lay down its arms following an unconditional ultimatum by the Union Home Ministry and a conditional offer of talks.