Tackling Terrorism Unarmed





Samir Kumar Jha




 
© Copyright 2021 by Samir Kumar Jha


Photo of old man's hands.
  

Purpose of writing this article :

This is the Memoirs of an unarmed soldier. This article has been written with the following four purposes in my mind :
  1. To make Govt. of India and Govt. officials aware what was happening in this area
  2. To make people of Non-north east aware what was happening in North-East India
  3. To provide people the necessary skill to function effectively in this belt
  4. To provide some permanent remedy to these problems.
2009 : Jan-June
I was new to this job as Public Relations Officer, oil upstream industry and also the state. I was overjoyed to learn that I would be visiting Guwahati as I had never visited North-east earlier. I took a flight from New Delhi along with my new boss , Mr. Ashok Saikia . During journey he told me how important his family was there from political angle. His father,Mr. Hiteshwar Saikia was twice the chief minister of Assam and had been the governor of Manipur .His mother was state minister and brother was also politically active .

I landed at Guwahati on 18th January 2009 morning and left next day for our camp site at Lumding ( falls in Nagaon district of Assam ) . Our operations was going on smoothly .

We were informed that many cease fire groups were there in that area and Army camps were also there . We were conveyed that nothing would happen to us and our project would run smoothly .
Author resting at camp and doing office work in terrorist area of Assam
Author resting at camp and doing office work in terrorist area of Assam


First face to face with ‘terror’

One fine day on 3rd February when I was accompanying my crew members in five vehicles ( Tata Sumos) two boys of hardly 14 years old waived their hands and asked us to stop our vehicles .When I got down the vehicle and asked them the reason they conveyed we cannot go to our work . We should first meet the Sardar, their chief. Inspite of repeated requests to him that we should be allowed to work and we would meet the Sardar in the evening they refused . Finally after repeated persuasion they allowed us to work provided we would meet the Sardar in evening .

In evening I went alone. I was having two mixed feelings –fear of meeting terrorist, curiosity and desire to know what type of people are they ? I was directed to wait near a tree. After sometimes two persons came who told me to go inside a particular house. After waiting for few minutes then came a strong built-up person who told me that we have to give some donations as per the cost of our project . I should convey to my seniors and I would be called after three –four days the exact amount would be conveyed.

Exactly after 2days i.e. on 5th February our 4 officers were kidnapped .
Project of seismic survey (a project which is the first stage of oil exploration) came to halt for indefinite period resulting in time and cost overrun.

I was asked to go to Police station to lodge FIR. Police station was also located in deep forest area itself. My driver and other staff refused to go because of fear of being killed/kidnapped in deep forest. Finally I went alone with a driver and lodged FIR against unknown kidnappers.

After four days one survey supervisor received a phone call at Lumding that all our persons had been kidnapped by a’Black Kobra ‘ group . If we wanted to rescue our concerned person we could talk on a particular phone number.

Same day in morning I conveyed to my VP (Vice President) at Head Office ,New Delhi this incident.

Again after two days a phone call was received by Mr. Saikia,our Senior VP regarding ransom money call .The kidnappers introduced themselves of belonging to a particular cease fire group. Demand was Rs. 4 crore.Days began to pass. Negotiations with kidnappers continued for reducing ransom money .We were just worried what must be happening to our colleagues.

After one week I was told to send clothes of kidnapped staff to Army unit located in forest .It would help Police dog to smell and follow them . Then again staff had so much fear in mind that I had to go alone to Army unit.

When I landed at Army unit in forest Second-in-command ,Lt. Col. Rajesh Shukla greeted me. I was offered lunch. SP was there and army was making its troop ready for search. Police wing was also getting ready .In night I had to share double bed with SP who was quite reluctant .

Search operation continued for the night and next 3-4 days. I left in morning for my office.

Project had come to halt .

After around 45 days I was told by my VP to go to nearest police station .
Our people were relieved and I had to collect them from Police Station .
When I reached Police Station one other cease-fire group was there who had helped us in getting these people back and one DySP (Deputy Superintendent of Police )was also there . After completing formalities at Police Station our 4 vehicles left for our camp along with DySP and our released staff.

Army camp in terrorist area.

Army camp in terrorist area ,Halflong,Assam

Narration by kidnapped staff

Kidnapped staff when released narrated their story . They said that they were offered monkeys and dogs as food . Since they could not think of eating these they used to eat often fruits , rice and pulse . They were not beaten by kidnappers but as days passed by they were losing hope of returning alive.

2010: “Second kidnapping :Assam season : Oct-May 2010
I was supposed to go with our staff but was told no to go as there was some other work related to Police station/Govt. office .

As lucky as I was that inspite of their target I just escaped but they kidnapped our 3 staff which we came to know in evening .

From the field kidnappers took four and left others .After 2 days we received the name of the group and ransom money of twenty lakh . Our Head iffice negotiated . Since we had second experience tension in camp was less. After a week’s negotiation our people we re relieved .

Train incident

Being PRO I used to visit Police stations in my city frequently . Once I was called by SP for some meeting in district headquarters, NC Hills . After the meeting was over SP said to take escort of police man for my return journey .Being a civilian common man I was thrilled to listen to his offer but I denied thinking it is not needed .

I entered in train. It was a local MG (Meter Gauge)train which commutes short distances and has no reserved compartments or upper class. .Train was almost full .Just Infront of me a policeman was travelling . He knew me so while chitchatting wih him journey was going on but soon he got down on next station .

Gradually night darkness was engulfing the train . Train was having darkness inside. Incidentally outside station was also dark .
On a station a person requested to sit next to me . Though there was no space available on humanitarian ground I offered him space next to me.All were elderly people except a man left to me was a young Army boy.Around 10 PM when almost all in coach were drowsing the person next to me (whom I had offered seat) asked me for my mobile. I asked him ,why he wanted my mobile . He said there is no reason but he insisted .Gradually he took out his revolver and was about to press on my cheek. . Since mobile was not very expensive costing around Rs. 2500 ( no smart phone that time) and not giving involved risk to life I handed over my mobile to him. Suddenly he stood up and started collecting from one other person also. When he asked Army boy who was almost sleeping, he grabbed his hand and both started fighting. Revolver bullet was about to hit train roof. We were scared and covering our head to save from bullet. Now fighting further escalated with fist etc. They were moving in whole coach .Suddenly the robber jumped out of the train.

SP asking for SP office repair fund

I had gone to NC Hills SP office for asking assistance of Home guards for security of our staff due to threat of cease fire . SP told me clearly that SP office requires repair and it is short of fund . Hence he asked me to fund it in a different name .

After discussing with my boss ,Senior VP who himself was from a political family I denied this illegal help to SP .
Incidents of Shaan ,singer

Shaan is a famous and well known singer .An event of his music was organized in Lumding ,Assam . I ws just wondering what type of programme will be there in terrorist affected area . So I went there to watch the programme .After 1-2 hours people began throwing chairs on each other .Programme was interrupted and finally it came to halt.

Various demands put-up from time-to-time:
S.No. Demand Group Frequency Monetary value of demand -Annual(Rs.)-Lac Form of communication
1 Rs. 15 Lac plus a vehicle Cease Fire Once 22 Verbal
2 Demand of vehicle Do Alternate Day,Sundays 4 Do
3 Rent for our camp in their area Do
4 Do
4 Laptop/Genrator Do Once 1 Do
5 Contributions for Bihu,Bodoland festival Local group Once 1 Written
6 Threat to my life CF Thrice
Secret message conveyed by Army
7 Chanda Police Once .5 Verbal
8 JCB CF Once .1 Verbal
9 Extortion call to our contractors CF Thrice 100 Verbal
10 Extortion call to us CF Twice 800 Verbal and written

2011-2012

Baroda experience

When posted in Vadodara I thought situation would be comfortable here as Gujarat is a peaceful state. A rich state, prosperous state and far from terrorism and other issues .
But alas I was mistaken. Farmers were behaving as bad as terrorists . They were not allowing us to proceed with work unless the demands raised by them were met .The demands used to be as follows :

- Too high rates of compensation
- Would not allow at any cost to do

They even entered at times our office and threw chairs in sky and created disturbance.

Solution :Army commander controlling that area told me when I asked what was the solution of these problems .He told me clearly,”To-day they are asking for money and raising threats .To-morrow they would ask for your wife.Would you give them ?”
So solution is unless and until we are not afraid of what they ask for and unless and until we refuse to try to fulfill their demand ,the environment of terror would disappear and they would no longer be terrorists but would be converted to general criminals .

 
(Assam is state in Northeast India and Guwahati is its capital. Manipur is another state .Rs. is Indian Currency.)


I was editor my school magazine . I am having Master’s in Business Administration from IIM (India) .Currently I am working with an MNC .   I love reading and teaching.
                                                                                        


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