New Delhi, Aug 21 (IANS) Assam Police have suggested that skill development centres be created across the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) to keep youngsters away from militancy, a top police officer has said.
The plan, which is in it’s initial stage, was conceived by the Assam Police after ideas were sought internally to tackle the recruitment of youths by the National Democratic Front of Bodoland-S (NDFB-S) faction in recent months.
“Stopping recruitment in NDFB area is not easy. We are trying to reach out to the people in far-flung villages of these areas. The challenges are many,” Assam’s Additional Director General (ADG) of Police L.R. Bishnoi told IANS.
“On the request of the Special Branch of Assam Police, I have suggested the creation of skill development centres in the Bodo areas. Fifty different villages have been identified for this. If this becomes successful then possibly we can stop the recruitment of youths by this NDFB-S,” Bishnoi added.
Bishnoi, who is also in-charge of railways and the BTAD, said the list of 50 villages has been already submitted to the police department, which, after proper analysis, will take it forward with the government.
“Through these skill development centres the tribal youths in these (BTAD) areas can be engaged in various types of constructive work. If this initiative succeeds, we can also have local skilled workers from the state itself,” said Bishnoi.
How will these centres work?
“As per the plans, the youths will be trained in computer science, handicrafts and plumbing, among several other disciplines,” Bishnoi said.
The BTAD consists of four contiguous districts — Kokrajhar, Baksa, Udalguri and Chirang. Kokrajhar was recently rocked by grenade blasts and a shootout in which 14 persons were killed and several injured.
Assam Police chief Mukesh Sahay had blamed the anti-talk faction of the NDFB for the attack. The faction is led by I.K. Songbijit.
Sahay had also said that the NDFB-S was desperately recruiting boys aged below 18 to replenish losses it has suffered due to ongoing counter-insurgency operations.
“We have identified several areas in these Bodo districts where the youths were being recruited by the NDFB-S. We have counselled these youths and sent them back to their parents. The police are taking special initiatives to control the recruitment drive by the NDFB-S,” he added.
“It is a matter of concern because youths being recruited for the militant group are even school-going students who get influenced due to various reasons, including poverty,” Sahay said.
According to the Assam Police, there are also instances of girls under 18 being forcibly taken away.
(Rupesh Dutta can be contacted at Rupesh.email@example.com)