Extremist-related incidents: Zero. Civilians killed: Zero. Civilians injured: Zero. Security personnel killed: Zero. Persons kidnapped: Zero. Number of encounters: Zero. Extremists killed: Zero. A little over six weeks ago, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was removed from Tripura. At the Northeast Chief Minister’s Conference on Saturday, Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar had a list of figures for 2015, till the month of June, showing why.
Addressing the meet, convened by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Sarkar said, “Over the years, my state has had good success in dealing with insurgency. As would appear from the table shown, the number of extremist incidents has significantly reduced in the last 10 years. Insurgent groups have suffered considerable depletion in strength. At present, there is no hideout of insurgents in my state.”
Advising how fellow states in the Northeast could emerge out of the shadow of insurgency like Tripura, which was once badly affected by extremist violence, had done, the CM said, “Dealing with insurgency in the Northeast would require a multi-pronged approach, which has space for security forces to operate alongside a pro-people development machinery supported by vibrant grassroot democratic institutions.
This has been practised with good success in Tripura.” With security forces putting constant pressure on extremists, the CM said, most top leaders of the NLFT had surrendered, while its network and operational strength had weakened.
He put the NLFT’s existing strength at approximately 88, and the number of weapons with it at 100, including AK-series guns, LMGs, MMGs and rocket launchers. However, Sarkar expressed apprehension about the NLFT ultras sheltering in 16 camps across the Indo-Bangladesh border.
Three of these camps are near the border and attacks are mounted on the Indian side from there, he said. “Some recent incidents in other parts of the region indicate that they are trying to revive their cadres under a common umbrella and launch a massive attack on security forces,” the CM said. Urging the Centre to “strongly persuade” Bangladesh to destroy these hideouts, he added, “Their continued presence is a major source of threat to peace and tranquillity in the Northeast. The safe haven of the top militant leaders should be cleared and their bank accounts frozen. The cadres and leaders of these outfits should be apprehended and handed over to Indian authorities.”