Black Widow announces unilateral ceasefire for 3 months

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Haflong, Mar 29 (UNI) The 'Black Widow,' Assam's most violent insurgent group, has announced unilateral ceasefire for three months.

Official sources said the decision by the ultras was taken last week and communicated to the Assam Police on March 24 through a fax.

The district received the news with a mix of disbelief and suspicion amidst joy, they said.

''This is a great development and people of the North Cachar Hills were long waiting for it. We all hope that the government will reciprocate, the ceasefire will extend and the Union Government will begin the peace process in earnest at the earliest,'' said Mr Mohit Hojai, the Executive Member(EM) of the newly elected NC Hills District Autonomous Council.

In a fast-paced development, after wrecking havoc in the district for the last one year, the rebels belonging to the Black Widow declared the unilateral ceasefire for a period of three months.

However, the government had not yet taken any decision on suspension of operations against the group.

''Ceasefire is not the end. It has to be carried forward. There are too many ceasefires and the talk process remains stagnant after that. The government must show sincerity,'' said Kulendu Daulagapu, EM of the Council.

The Government had not made its response clear, while the rival Pranab Nunisa faction of the Dimasa militants called on Governor Lt Gen Ajay Singh on Thursday urging him to intervene and expedite the peace process.

The Nunisa faction was on ceasefire with the Union Government for the past three years but the radical faction of the Black Widow broke off from the pact and targetted the moderate faction.

They killed more than 120 people and injured 165 in the last one year. They also stalled the two mega infrastructure projects of the East-West Corridor and broad gauge conversion besides the NEEPCO's hydel project of Umrangso.

The security forces believed the intensified operation had forced the group to go for ceasefire.

An important decision is expected on April 2, when the strategy group of the Unifed Command meets under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

However, the mood in Haflong was to give peace some chance as tremendous pressure had been created through a series of peace rallies and meeting by the civil society of the NC Hills.

A highly-placed security source said, ''We have to examine whether the outfit is really serious on the ceasefire before taking any decision on suspension of operations. The then chief of the Dima Halam Daogah (DHD), Jewel Garlosa, had signed the ceasefire agreement with the Government to come forward for talks but later came out of the DHD to form the Black Widow group, proving that he is not sincere on peace.'' According to information available with the Government, the group had around 150 armed cadres and the favourable terrain of the district put the militants at an advantageous position.

The Government had recently decided to procure eight bullet proof vehicles, including four buses, for the movement of security forces and workers of the NEEPCO from the residential colony to the power houses, while around 500 ex-servicemen had been appointed as special police officers to provide security to the personnel working in execution of the Railway and National Highway projects.

UNI MT PL SBC HT1302

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