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21 Mountain Division / Red Horns Division

A cloak-and-dagger game is on all over Assam. Bitten and embarrassed by the Kargil bug that showed India's intelligence personnel in bad light, the sleuths appear to be waking up to seek revenge against Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). It was once again the Army that issued the wake-up call. On 31 July 1999, Major-General B P Bopanna, GoC 21 Mountain Division, made a startling disclosure: Some madrassas (schools) in Assam were helping the growth of separatist forces with the help of ISI.

As part of its drive to work for the welfare of the people of Assam, in mid-2001 the Army achieved yet another landmark when it commenced a computer cadre for 100 students of Government Higher Secondary School, Rangiya. The cadre was inaugurated by Maj Gen AS Jamwal, General Officer Commanding 21 Mountain Division. The three-week cadre run by 21 Mountain Division Signal Regiment aimed at spreading the computer insight amongst the school going children so as to launch them into the information technology (IT) careers subsequently.

Red Horns Division in early 2002 engaged in organising a series of apprentice cadres for unemployed youth of various districts in Lower Assam as part of ongoing efforts to wean the youth away from gun culture. The 621 EME Battalion of 21 Mountain Division conducted an apprentice cadre in Nalbari district. This was the fourth in the series of apprentice cadres which were earlier conducted in the districts of Kokrajhar, Kamrup, Nalbari, Dhubri and Bongaigaon. The cadre was inaugurated by Maj Gen Gaganjit Singh, GOC, 21 Mountain Division. The apprentice cadre ran for four weeks and was conducted in two phases. During the initial phase, basic training was imparted to the candidates in all trades. In second phase, practical training was given to deserving candidates. The cadre was planned to be interactive in nature with basic class room training and practicals followed by an "on-the-job" training. At the end of cadre, successful candidates were awarded certificates recognised by the State Government of Assam.

Bandarguri is a tiny hamlet at the foothills of Himalayas. Inhabited mostly by Bodos and Nepalese, this village is located near Indo-Bhutan border. For an allround development of Bandarguri, Red Horns Division launched operation Samaritan here. As a part of this project, it constructed a Vocational Training Centre (VTC) christened "The Vayas Vocational Training Centre". The centre is named in the memory of a gallant soldier of the Division, Late Nk Vayas Chander. Nk Chander lost his life while fighting against the militants at Khagrabari in Darrang district last year. Maj Gen Gaganjit Singh, GOC, Red Horns Division participated in the inaugural function of VTC. The centre was inaugurated by Mr Nareshwar Deka, a retired teacher. Civil officials and a large number of people attended the inaugural ceremony. Speaking in the occasion, the Major General hoped that the centre would provide employment to the villagers.

In yet another blow to the ULFA and other terrorist outfits, on 24 January 2008 a total of 39 hardcore cadres laid down their arms in front of Maj Gen Chandra Prakash, General Officer Commanding, Red Horns Division at a ceremony organized at Rangia with large quantum of assorted arms and ammunition. It was a major beakthrough for the troops of Red Horns Division. It came a time when reportedly there were rifts in the hierarchy of 709 battalion of ULFA. The Inspector General (law & order), Mr Mahanta and Mr GP Singh, DIG were also present during the ceremony. Major General Chandra Prakash, General Officer Commanding, Red Horns Division in his address lauded the courage, conviction and decision of these cadres to shun violence and join the mainstream and also assured them that all help would be provided to rebuild their lives. The General Officer also complemented the parents of those cadres who motivated them to shun violence and return to the mainstream. He informed that rehabilitation training centre run by Red Horn Division at Tamulpur has so far trained 35 surrendered terrorists in various self employment fields like driving, computer training, carpentry, tailoring, bee keeping, sericulture, food preservation etc in an effort to rehabilitate them. The General complemented all combatants of the Red Horns Division, intelligence agencies and police whose synergized and sustained efforts resulted in the surrender.

For 20 years, Assam was no stranger to violence and insurgency ever since the ULFA launched its insurgency in real earnest. Much water has flowed down the Brahmaputra since then. But the 30 October 2008 blasts that killed more than 80 people across Assam shook the people like never before. "Whatever inputs and indications that we have received so far, the fact is the blasts could not have taken place without an external agency getting involved. But this could not have been executed without the local support of the militant organisaton. While ULFA has denied it, we have a good reason to believe that it was carried out by the loyalists of ULFA," said Major General Chander Prakash, General-Officer-Commanding, 21 Mountain Division.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:41:13 ZULU