Two rebel outfits in Tripura, formed in 1990 with the objective of “expulsion of all foreigners who entered the State after 1956”, will be slapped with a fresh ban under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) following a review by the Centre, officials said.
A report published in the The Indian Express stated that The All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) and the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) were banned in 1997.
The report further quoted a senior Government official as saying, “Both NLFT and ATTF are active. Their debarment was to expire on October 2 next, ahead of which inputs were sought from the State Government and the security agencies. During a review it was decided to continue with their ban under UAPA.”
The ATTF and NLFT were banned by the Home Ministry in April 1997 following large-scale ethnic riots involving tribals and non-tribals in Khowai sub-division, in which both the outfits intervened on behalf of the tribals. The groups have been dormant since Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) was revoked by the Manik Sarkar Government in 2015. AFSPA had been imposed in Tripura in 1997 after a spate of killings and kidnappings by the NLFT.
After the Bharatiya Janata Party-Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (BJP-IPFT) Government came to power this year, there were demands to lift the ban on the two outfits, and the issue was due for a review later this month. However, security agencies pointed out that members of NLFT were suspected to be involved in extortion and cases had been registered against them.
Tripura shares more than 850 km of boundary with Bangladesh. Last month, NLFT reportedly issued extortion notices in three villages close to the Indo-Bangla border in Dhalai district, 130 km from Tripura. The police have launched a probe into the matter.
“The NLFT and ATTF are equipped with sophisticated weapons and have expertise and training in explosives handling largely due to their link with Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTs) is a haven and training ground for militants,” said Tripura Police.
A recent assessment by Intelligence agencies claimed that some hideouts of banned insurgents were still active in the (CHTs) of Bangladesh. The BSF was alerted and Tripura Police has intensified patrolling in bordering areas. “There are reports of tribal farmers crossing the border to gather firewood. Insurgents hand over extortion notices to such farmers, who are asked to deliver them to the target,” the official added. According to the Home Ministry, no incidents of violence or kidnapping involving the two outfits were reported in 2016-17.