Hindustan Times (Lucknow)

How Black Widow used govt money to fuel insurgency

- Azaan Javaid azaan.javaid@hindustant­imes.com

The conviction of 15 members of Black Widow, a disbanded Assam-based militant outfit, has establishe­d what was well known, but kept under wraps — that government funds were being funnelled for insurgent activities in some northeaste­rn states.

The court ruling on May 23 details the findings of National Investigat­ion Agency (NIA), which exposed a sophistica­ted network involving government officials, ‘businessme­n’, private contractor­s, hawala operators and militants, who diverted government funds to buy arms from dealers in Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. The funds were used to fuel a two-decade-long insurgency to create Dimaland,” said an NIA official.

An insurgency to create Dimaland was initiated by Dimasa National Security Force (DNSF), which ceased its operations in 1995, except for Jewel Garlosa, the self-styled commander-inchief of the group.

Garlosa — one of the 15 convicted — refused to surrender and launched Dima Halam Daogah (DHD). An ouster from DHD eight years later prompted him to form DHD (Jewel).

Opportunit­y provided itself to Garlosa to make major inroads in Assam. In 2003, the same year he was ousted, 17 Dimasa tribal men were abducted from Chachar district and allegedly killed by militants of Hmar’s People’s Convention–Democrats.

Widows of the 17 Dimasa men swore to avenge their husbands’ killing and began calling themselves Black Widows. Garlosa began to advocate the cause of a separate state for Dimasa tribe. He adopted the name Black Widow and stepped up violence in Cachar, NC Hills and Nagaon districts of Assam.

There was of course one major issue that needed to be resolved — funding. Owing to the split in DHD, Garlosa knew that the only way for his Black Widow group to sustain in Assam was through a steady flow of funds.

When most of the militant groups in north-eastern states resorted to extortion, Garlosa and his second-in-command Niranjan Hojai went a step further and embedded his men in North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC), one of the main administra­tive bodies governing the militancy-prone Dima Hasao district in Assam.

The first step would usually start with awarding of contracts for supply of office material to private contractor­s who held membership of Black Widow group. Funds meant for department­s such as Social Welfare and PHED were diverted to shell companies whose dummy directors would hand over the money to individual­s in Kolkata to convert the same into dollars. The dollars would then be sent to arms dealers through hawala operators. Arms would then be brought in from Thailand using multiple routes along border states in India.

The network expanded to such an extent that on November 26, 2008, when the Mumbai attacks were underway, Niranjan Hojai forced a meeting with government officials of NCHAC at the residence of the chief executive member Dipobal Hojai from Bangkok.Niranjan, documents state, asked Dipobal to resign and paved the way for Mohit Hojai after the former was not able to meet the fund demands of DHD(J). “If you don’t listen, you will have the same fate as Purnendu Langthasa,” shouted Niranjan on the phone while talking to Dipobal.

Purnendu Langthasa was a Congress leader murdered by militants in 2007, the year of the election which ASDC in alliance with BJP won. “ASDC had the tacit support of DHD(J),” reads the chargeshee­t in the case.

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