Several hundred tribals have deserted their villages amidst fear of extremist attacks in an interior Tripura district. The evacuation of families has occurred in different villages under Chawmanu police station limit in Dhalai district since Friday, police said on Saturday.
"We have information of 70 families from Chawmanu villages taken shelter in schools near the police station", a Dhalai district police official said by phone. However, unofficial sources put the figure at 125, higher than the official record.
He said the villagers became panic stricken after a tribal woman reported to a nearby camp of the Tripura State Rifles (TSR) witnessing movement of some masked armed men in the area. TSR platoons subsequently launched a search, but failed to track down the suspected armed men.
Reports said extremists of the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) have been active in Chawmanu area for many months and engaged in extortions mainly in villages like Gadhi Karbari Para, Mangal Karbari Para, Surojoy Karbari Para, Joychand Karbari Para and Tuichar Karbari Para.
The authorities have arranged additional security deployment in the restive areas following evacuation of tribal villagers. North Tripura district magistrate Kiran Gitte said the evacuees have been provided shelter and food, and efforts are on to pursue them return home.
Meanwhile, Border Security Force (BSF) directed to intensify vigil along the Bangladesh border near Chawmanu in view of threat perceptions. A stretch of some kilometers have been unfenced and reports suggest movement of the NLFT extremists through this corridor.
In another development police claimed to have gained access to some vital information from a top NLFT leader arrested at Mizoram state capital Aizawl on July 12. Utpal Debbarma, self styled foreign secretary of the group was placed under police remand for four days after Assam Rifles handed him over to Tripura police.