Chakma rebels use Mizo route

Silchar, April 26: Mizoram has now become a convenient conduit for clandestine arms shipment for Chakma militants fighting for their autonomy at Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh.

The fact was uncovered during March and April when two consecutive attempts by Chakma arms traffickers and their Mizo associates to sneak past the security vigil in Mizoram to enter Bangladesh through the state’s Lunglei and Lawngtlai districts were foiled by the BSF and state police.

A BSF press release said jawans belonging to the 42 battalion caught an arms trafficker, Lalbia Khuya, 26, during its joint operation with the Mizoram police on April 15.

Khuya, a resident of Mamit district in Mizoram, is a regular trafficker of contraband drugs and arms. He was speeding to the Phuldengsei side on Mizoram’s boundary with Bangladesh in a scooter, hiding an AK-47 rifle and ammunition for 7.62mm SLR gun and Kalashnikov rifles.

Earlier on March 7, Mizoram police had seized a large cache of arms near Lengpui airport, 40km from Aizawl, from three Chakma rebels who had entered Mizoram without passports or valid entry papers from the hill tracts region in Bangladesh. They had been identified as Moni Chakma, 58, Robi Chakma, 37, and Sabuj Chakma, 40, all residents of the once insurgency-scarred Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Police sources said the seized arsenal included 23 AK-47 rifles (21 made in Russia and the rest two in China), a 5.56 light machine gun manufactured in Singapore and a large cache of ammunition of the AK-series rifles and machine guns.

Subsequently, two Mizo associates of the Chakma smuggling gang were also picked up by policemen following interrogation of the Chakma arms traffickers.

A source in the central intelligence department today said during the interrogation, the Chakmas disclosed that the impounded arms shipment was meant for a Bangladesh-based Chakma insurgent outfit, the United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF).

The source added that the outfit was the armed entity of Parbatiya Chakma Janajati Sanhati Samity, an underground political outfit that has been in conflict with the Bangladesh authorities since 1998 for realising their demand for autonomy for the Chakma inhabitants in Chittagong Hill Tracts.

The UPDF emerged in the insurgency landscape after the Shanti Bahini, the first of the many militant outfits ofthe Chakma community , broke into several splinter groups.

~ The Telegrap

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