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United People's Democratic Solidarity (UPDS)

The United People's Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) composed of two former secessionist outfits - the Karbi National Volunteers (KNV) and the Karbi People's Front (KPF), seek the secession of the Karbi-Anglong nation of the north Kachar district of the Assam province of the Indian Union.

The United People's Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) was formed in March 1999 with the merger of two terrorist outfits in Assam's Karbi Anglong district, the Karbi National Volunteers (KNV) and Karbi People's Front (KPF).

The outfit signed a cease-fire agreement for one year with the Union Government on May 23, 2002. However, this led to a split in the UPDS with one faction deciding to continue with its subversive activities while the other commenced negotiations with the Government. Currently, there are two factions: pro-talks and anti-talks. On May 16, 2004, the UPDS (Anti-Talks) rechristened itself as the Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF) and its armed wing as the Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Resistance Force (KNPR).

Aim

 The aim of UPDS is to purge the area off non- Karbi settlers, including the Biharis, Bengalis and Nepalis. The Biharis, who opened the forest area of Karbi Anglong for sugarcane cultivation in the early nineteen fifties, are in a majority in the Hameren sub-division. The outfit has attempted to exploit the resentment of the tribal Karbi populace against the economic clout enjoyed by the Biharis and other "outsiders". The outfit has also launched operations targeting the Kuki population residing primarily in Diphu sub-division

Important Leaders

Kiri Rongphar was the founder 'chairman' of the outfit. Horen Singh was its 'supreme commander'. Both were arrested on October 22, 1999. On August 22, 2002, UPDS 'commander-in-chief' Long Kumar Kiling died of injuries sustained during a feline attack in the forests of Karbi Anglong district.

Areas of Operation

The outfit's main area of operations is in the Karbi Anglong district, with a relatively minor presence in the North Cachar Hills district.

Linkages

The outfit is known to have grown with the active assistance of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM). It is reported to have procured arms and ammunition from Bhutan and Bangladesh. The NSCN-IM is alleged to be still providing arms training to UPDS cadres. On May 11, 2004, 31 UPDS cadres (anti-talks faction) along with five NSCN-IM militants were arrested from a bus on the Paren-Ghaspani Road on their way to Dimapur. These cadres had undergone training at a NSCN-IM camp and were reportedly part of the recent batch that passed out from there.

The UPDS also shares a 'working relationship' with the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

Funds

Abductions for ransom and extortion are the main sources of income for the UPDS. Even the pro-talks faction is known to have indulged in several cases of extortion. According to official sources, the anti-talks faction generates a considerable amount of revenue by targeting the ginger producing Kukis in the Singhason Hills area. The non-Karbi traders are also targeted for extortion.




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