The Police team was reportedly ambushed by a group of 15-20 militants. Even as
the newly formed militant outfit, United Peoples Liberation Army (UPLA),
comprising of former United People's Democratic Solidarity (UPDS)
cadres, claimed responsibility for the killings, top intelligence sources have
refuted the claim, arguing that "preliminary investigation into the incident has
indicated KPLT's involvement and that there were specific inputs about their
According to the police, the SP had launched the operation based on wrong
information, given by informers who were surrendered KPLT cadres, which resulted
in the debacle. However, there are reports which suggest that both UPLA and KPLT
might have been involved in the incident.
Earlier this year, on January 28, Additional
SP-Security, Gulzar Hussain, of Sonitpur district and a 'police Informer' B.
Enla, were killed, while five Constables were injured, when a unit of the
anti-talk I.K Sonbijit faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB-IKS),
currently the most lethal outfit in Assam, ambushed a patrol party at Thalola in
the Batachipur area under Dhekiajuli Police Station.
According to reports, the Centre is all set to declare KPLT a banned
organization following the spurt in violence perpetrated by the outfit. A
decision in this effect is expected any day, according to a June 6, 2014,
statement by a senior Home Ministry official. In 2011, the Government had
described KPLT as a group of criminals and not representatives of the Karbi
people, and had ruled out the possibility of talks with them. The Ministry of
Home Affairs (MHA) has, however, recognized the UPDS and Karbi Longri North
Cachar Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF)
- the parent outfits of KPLT - as representative of the Karbi people.
Despite the June 5 setback, the Security Forces (SFs) have recorded a number of
successes against the KPLT, prominently including:
May 14, 2014: Indian Army and Assam Police personnel killed six KPLT militants,
including its 'commander-in-chief', Bikash Teron aka Kangthur, in a gun battle.
Two AK 47 rifles and one 12 bore repeater gun, two 9mm pistols, two hand
grenades, 453 rounds of AK 47 ammunition, SLR rounds, and 84 9mm pistol bullets,
were recovered from the slain militants.
May 25, 2014: The 'area commander' of the Dihing area, Mirjang aka Biren Hansey
of KPLT was killed by SFs in Sangram village in Karbi Anglong.
March 3, 2014: SFs, in an encounter, killed one KPLT militant, Suleman Rongpi
under Anjul Pani area under Rongmongwe Police Station at Karbi Anglong District.
Two KPLT militants, Joiram Timung and John Timung were also arrested during the
On April 20, 2012, in a major setback to the outfit, the 'general secretary' of
KPLT, Nilip Enghi and four other cadres were killed, and one was seriously
injured, during an encounter with the SFs on the hill track near Harlong Woti in
Borpung under the Chowkihola Police Station in East Karbi Anglong District.
KPLT was formed in January 2011 with the objective of carving out Autonomous
Karbi State (AKS) out of Assam. On January 9, 2014, KPLT observed its raising
day at two separate locations - the 'central headquarters' in East Karbi Anglong
and the 'general headquarters' in West Karbi Anglong. Ranam Lijang, 'general
secretary in-charge' of the outfit, declared that an autonomous State comprising
Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao is the 'constitutional right of the people' of the
Hill Districts. In order to attain the right and aspiration of the people, a
peaceful mass democratic movement had been witnessed over the preceding two
decades, he argued, but both the State and Central Governments had paid no heed.
Frustrated by the lack of an appropriate response from the Government, Karbi
Anglong youth had been 'compelled' to take up arms to demand implementation of
Article-244 (A), and to create an autonomous State comprising the two Hill
Districts. The KPLT leader further declared that, if the Government failed to
solve the vexed issue, the group would be forced to intensify its armed movement
to achieve its goal.
Subsequently, in April 2014, the outfit called for an indefinite bandh (general
shut down) ahead of the Lok Sabha polls in support of Hemprep Kanthin (self-rule
homeland) with the KPLT's general secretary stating, "The indefinite bandh will
be withdrawn when candidates promise to place the separate state issue in
Parliament if elected". The bandh was, however, called off to "allow people to
cast their votes as they wanted a representative from the constituency to raise
their demand for a separate autonomous state in Parliament". Earlier, on
January 23, KPLT has called for a 96-hour Karbi Anglong
bandh starting January 24, to boycott the Republic
Day celebrations in the District. In a statement, the general secretary termed
the "Indian Republic a worthless body and... should be viewed as black day.
People should abstain from observing Indian Republic day".
There have also been tensions between the Rengma Nagas and the Karbis in the
State. On December 27, 2013, at least four persons, the village headman and
three women, all belonging to the Rengma Naga community, were shot dead by KPLT
militants in Khowanigaon, under the Borpathar Police Station in the Karbi
Anglong District. Sources indicated that KPLT militants had issued an ultimatum
to Rengma Nagas to leave the District by December 25.
On the same day [December 27], a Naga militant outfit,
Rengma Naga Hills Protection Force (RNHPF), had retaliated and launched a
counter-attack on the KPLT militants, killing two of them. Further, on December
29, 2013, SFs recovered the bullet-riddled, decomposed bodies of two aged women,
suspected to have been killed by KPLT cadres, at Rengma Mouza, Bokajan, in Karbi
On January 3, 2014, highly decomposed bodies of nine persons, blindfolded, with
their hands tied and shot from close range, were recovered from a gorge in the
Pachaspura area, Chumekedima, in Dimapur District in Nagaland. On
January 6, Nagaland Police disclosed that all the nine
dead bodies were ethnic Karbis from the Karbi Anglong District of Assam
including a missing Karbi Students Association (KSA) leader, Harlongbi Engti.
The incident was purportedly in retaliation against the killing of the Rengma
Nagas in December 2013.
On March 12, 2014, the KPLT warned that Nagaland would be held responsible
in case of any 'retaliatory action' from Karbi Anglong to check the 'intrusion'
of Naga people inside Assam. KPLT's statement came after an alleged incursion
bid by a section of people from Nagaland into forest areas in Karbi Anglong and
the torching of two houses in a bordering village. Condemning the "encroachment
of Karbi Anglong land by people of Nagaland", the KPLT 'general secretary' Ranam
Lijang accused the people and Government of Nagaland of "illegal land grabbing"
and termed the recent bid as "motivated by evil intention".
KPLT activities have also been reported in the neighbouring Meghalaya State.
According to a May 20, 2014, report, KPLT was extorting money from the Khasi
population residing in Block II, Ri-Bhoi District. KPLT has been openly
threatening Khasi people who refuse to heed to their extortion threats.
resident of Umtleih village in Umsning, Ri-Bhoi District, stated that he
received a call from the 'area commander' of the outfit, in the night of May 19,
demanding that each family of the village should pay INR 2,000 to KPLT. The
'area commander' also threatened that the outfit would not hesitate to kill
those who refused to pay.
June 6, 2014, report also indicated that cadres of two recently floated militant
groups, UPLA and Karbi National Liberation Army (KNLA), along with KPLT, often
group together to launch extortion drives in the two Hill Districts of Karbi
Anglong and Dima Hasao.
KPLT, which came under
SF pressure immediately after
its formation in January 2011, has succeeded in replenishing its strength in
2013 by killing seven civilians and one SF during the year. The latest attack
suggests renewed vigour in the outfit, but, with all likeliness to provoke
dramatically escalating state responses after the death of a senior Police
[Veronica Khangchian is Research associate with
Institute for Conflict Management]