R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Sept 22 - Under tremendous pressure due to sustained operations by police and security forces, the leaders and cadres of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (Songbijit), who are in Assam, sought permission from the headquarters of the outfit in Myanmar to surrender. This fact came out in the intercepts by the security forces.
Highly placed security sources told The Assam Tribune that the request of the Assam based members of the outfit was rejected by the Chairman of the outfit on the ground that as the NDFB(S) is now a member of the new platform of four militant outfits of the region having bases in Myanmar, it would not be possible for them to allow surrenders.
Sources said that due to the sustained counter-insurgency operations, some members of the outfit, including the commander-in-chief of the outfit, G Bidai sent feelers to the Government agencies expressing desire for a ceasefire. But the Government of India has made its stand clear that there would be no ceasefire with the NDFB (S) and if any member comes forward to surrender, he or she would have to face trial as per the provisions of the law.
According to estimates of the security agencies, the total strength of the outfit in Assam at present would be around 60 to 80 but there is no shortage of weapons with them. However, all of them are on the run and are not in a position to indulge in acts of violence. When the all out offensive was launched against the outfit following the killing of more than 70 persons by members of the outfit on December 23 last year, there were at least 40 cadres with Bidai, but the strength of the group dwindled to below ten now. The group tried to sneak into Bhutan but they could not manage to get any shelter in the neighbouring country and returned to Assam where they are shifting from one place to another, mostly in the jungles near the international boundary.
Sources said that though the forces have been using choppers from time to time to get their pinpointed location, thick jungles where they are mostly staying, hampered the operations. The group headed by Bidai has also not using mobile phones fearing that tracing of the calls may give out their location to the forces. However, it is possible that the group may be using the mobile network of Bhutan, sources added.
Though at least 200 cadres of the outfit are now in Myanmar, the leaders are not in a position to push them inside Assam at this moment, sources added.