Saturday, July 10, 2010

The ongoing DHD saga

On the continuing DHD (J)-GoAssam scandal

Niranjan Hojai’s escape and detention --- Many misses between cup and lip

SILCHAR, July 9: After a week of the arrest of Niranjan Hojai, ‘commander-in-chief’ of DHD (J), there now appears to be proverbially many misses between cup and lip. Pledging to work for peace and development, Hojai, it is to be recalled, bade farewell to jungle life along with his 360 comrades in arms on October 2, 2009, the birthday of the apostle of non violence Mahatma Gandhi. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi who was present on the surrender ceremony at Haflong described it as the most eventful annal in the history of Assam which he believed would herald a new era of resurgence, a positive signal to other insurgent group still in wilderness to end violence.

But his escape within three days of his surrender from the Jatinga designated camp, Niranjan Hojai quite mysteriously could give a slip to security dragnet and reach all the way to Nepal for safe shelter. According to observers, it was a well calculated move in connivance with higher ups in power after the NIA charge sheeted him who was allegedly involved in siphoning of development funds to militants. Jewel Garlosa, DHD supremo, Mohet Hojai, former CEM of autonomous district council and 11 others also figured in the NIA charge sheet.

The infamous Rs 1,000 crore scam of North Cachar Hills, now called Dima Hasao, that took place between 2001 to 2009 exposed by NIA became breaking news for print and electronic media across the country {?!, across Assam, I can see, across India, duh!}, bringing once more in focus the brazen nexus between politician and militant. It became a media blitzkrieg as seven ministers and five top officials were also named by NIA being involved in the greatest ever fraud. IG Behera, operations of NIA, however, rebutted it. The seizure of Rs 13.5 crore from the house of a relative of RH Khan, Deputy Director of Social Welfare Department, a king pin in the multi-crore drainage of public fund, are gradually peeling off the beans of the unprecedented scam. Mohet Hojai and Khan are now in jail.

In fact, the arrest of Hojai jolted the Gogoi Government with Opposition launching blistering assault on it with uncomfortable questions on how the ‘commander-in-chief’ could flee under the nose of the security personnel to be in Nepal and then fly to Singapore soon after he was charge sheeted by NIA. This was also the question raised by Jadikhe Naisho Hoshom, the apex Dimasa body, and said law would take its own course in his case but asked has the State Government shown any sincerity in resolving militancy although more than nine months have elapsed since the rebels came over ground? The indefinite bandh call by DHD (J), now suspended, was also a part of the whole murky game, observers believe.

Senior leader of the DHD (J) Paiprang Dimasa did not spare the State Government either, accusing it of deceit against the outfit since till date it has not yet begun the process of a political dialogue to find a peaceful solution and rehabilitate the surrenderee within 100 day assured time frame. Jewel Garlosa was arrested by Assam Police from Bangalore last year. The diversion of funds going on for several years first came to light after police arrested two DHD (J) linkmen with Rs 1 crore in cash. During investigation, both of them confessed that Mohet Hojai gave them the money to buy arms from Mizoram.

After CBI took over the investigation from NIA, the State Government has become more jittery since Hojai’s arrest and grilling is expected to expose money laundering and rebel politician nexus. Hojai has amassed huge property including hotels in Nepal and made business jaunts to Singapore and Malaysia. An NIA official said Hojai had rented a flat in Singapore’s Woodlands residential complex where he was under watch. Questions are also being asked about the move of the State Government to change the name of North Cachar Hills as Dima Hasao despite unanimous protest from the majority non Dimasa tribal groups and also against the earlier stand of the cabinet sub committee headed by Dinesh Prasad Goala, Minister of Urban Development. The minister was on record to say since the Dimasas constitute only 43 per cent of the total population of the district, their demand for changing the nomenclature cannot be accepted.

Lured by the politician militant nexus for hassle free laundering of money from development funds, Niranjan Hojai in his 30 plus deserted the grade IV post in Public Health Engineering Department at Haflong and joined DHD (J) in 2004. He became a close confidant of Jewel Garlosa and was elevated to the rank of ‘commander-in-chief’ who had also the reputation as a sharp shooter.

While there is a need to tar and feather the Tarun Gogoi government for its complicity, official or otherwise, in the NC Hills scandal, one also has to note that usual suspects looking forward to the honeypot are very close. Sitting on the top of this mess is the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) and its secretary Akhil Gogoi.

Kamrup (M) administration has not given the KMSS permission to stage its Dispur chalo on July 14 in protest against the setting up of mega-dams and NC Hills scam in which Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar and Sandip Pandey will take part. “The district administration has allowed us to hold the rally at Sonaram HS School playground in the city and the procession up to the DC office. If we are to stage a procession up to the DC office, we could have staged it in Lakhimpur, the district worst affected by mega-dams. We are going to stage Dispur chalo just to make the State Government aware of the grim situation. We will go ahead with our Dispur chalo programme. We appeal to all parties, organizations and individuals who have been opposing mega-dams in the State and who want that the culprits of NC Hills scam be exposed to gather at Dispur Last Gate on July 14.”

I would like to be uncivilized and call this a crock of crap. There are no "mega-dams" that are being planned in the region, just run-of-the-mill hydroelectric plants. In fact, we have NOT heard any news of the associated Tipaimukh dam on the Barak river owing to GoI's water-diplomacy with Bangladesh. The case of Assam is one of a huge potential, all gone waste due to lack of tapping. There is a concerted attempt to bring in under one giant umbrealla all the anti-INC folks such as PK Mahanta, the BJP, the social activists, the pro-ULFA PCA, and the anarchists. Like the Janata Party coalition of 1977, such a coalition, if formed, will fall flat due to its inner contradictions. The hope is to ensure that such a coalition does not form in the first place, NOT because of love for Tarun Gogoi and the INC, but because of the critical phase in which the bargaining is with NDFB, ULFA and DHD. Upsetting the status quo and bringing in a PK Mahanta rule, which is only going to be more corrupt and pro-ULFA (a big if!) is not the best thing for Assam nor for India. Elsewhere, JG puts TG in the dock

DHD chairman Jewel Gorlosa today said the outfit’s ‘commander-in-chief’ Niranjan Hojai had not escaped from designated camp but gone outside Assam with permission from the State authorities. “Niranjan Hojai had not escaped from designated camp but gone outside Assam with permission from the administration. His arrest will hamper the DHD (J) peace process,” Gorlosa told reporters when he was produced in the court here today. Hojai was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from India-Nepal border recently.

When Niranjan Hojai’s name figured in the NIA charge-sheet, he reportedly disappeared from designated camp under mysterious circumstances and the State Government declared him a fugitive. Today, NIA produced Gorlosa and 12 others in the court in connection with the first and second cases related to the multi-crore-rupee NC Hills scam. Among them were RH Khan, Mohit Hojai and Partha Barisa. Niranjan Hojai could not be produced in the court, as he is in NIA custody at present. The court remanded them in 14-day judicial custody.

and, Linky

A huge cache of arms, including 28 AK-47 rifles, belonging to insurgent outfit DHD(J) was unearthed in North Cachar Hills district, police said today. A joint team of police and Army recovered 48 assorted weapons buried in a jungle at Thana Lambra in Haflong police station area late last night following interrogation of arrested Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel Garlosa) faction leader Niranjan Hojai. The recoveries included 28 AK-47 assault rifles, eight SLRs, five M-16 rifles, two M-21 rifles, three pistols, one OG rifle and a grenade launcher, police said.

During interrogation by National Investigation Agency (NIA) which recently arrested him from Indo-Nepal border, Hojai gave the lead to the buried arms in the jungle. Jewel and 12 others were produced in a local court here yesterday in connection to the multi-crore NC Hills scam and were remanded to 14 days police custody.

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