SILCHAR, Oct 28: The hope that was generated with the Black Widow laying down arms in NC Hills district seems to be evaporating as reports of extortion and threats to contractors by the surrendered Dimasa militants are beginning to pour in within just three weeks of the ceremonial surrender.
Sources said Black Widow cadres, housed in four designated camps, have started issuing demand notes to the contractors engaged in the Silchar-Lumding Broad Gauge Project.
A source close to the Railway Contractors’ Association said that the surrendered Dimasa militants had attacked a vehicle of ABCI, a construction company, on October 18 and damaged it. The driver of the vehicle was also beaten up by the militants, the source said. The incident took place at Kapurcherra where a designated camp for the surrendered militants has been erected.
The contractors were appalled to learn that the incident took place just near a paramilitary force camp. The contractors said that the surrendered militants might resort to large-scale extortion as security forces would not be able to stop them due to their “surrendered” status.
Uncertainty over the completion of the much-awaited gauge conversion project has once again started to creep up as experts from outside the State, to survey the proposed tunnels, might cancel their visit, a source hinted.
Meanwhile, another source said that the October 18 incident was actually the handiwork of the splinter group of Black Widow led by James Dimasa. It has also been alleged that that James Dimasa was deliberately asked not to join the mainstream by Black Widow leaders so that he could continue run the Black Widow extortion business.
On the other hand, after a long lull the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), a militant outfit of Tripura, has started issuing extortion notes to railway employees here. At least 13 railway employees working in Manu and SK Para have received such demand notes, a source confirmed. The demand notes were signed by BL Halam, secretary and collector of the ‘revenue and tax department’ of the outfit.
Meanwhile, the NF Railway Mazdoor Union has expressed grave concern over the reports of extortion bid by surrendered militants. The Union is apprehensive as to whether the much-awaited gauge conversion project would be completed by the scheduled time — 2012. THE SENTINEL