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HindustanTimes Wed,01 Oct 2014

NE rebels have hots for branded arms

Rahul Karmakar, Hindustan Times  Guwahati, September 23, 2012
First Published: 23:23 IST(23/9/2012) | Last Updated: 01:19 IST(24/9/2012)

If the brand craze rules the average Indian, can the insurgent be far behind?

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The old guard might have settled for cheap Chinese copies of Kalashnikovs, but the new age rebel prefers to flaunt Glocks, Berettas and Heckler and Kochs. And to fund the jazzy arsenal, the extortion rate has gone up by nearly 30%.

Officials engaged in counter-insurgency say in Meghalaya, the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) is replacing its Kalashnikovs with the German-made Heckler and Koch 5.56mm automatic and the Austrian-made X-33 Glock rifle.

Even the Chinese pistols like M20 are on their way out. The German Walther PPK and the Italian Beretta are high on the wishlist of GNLA leaders.

Another Meghalaya group, Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council, is said to possess the US-made Browning and German Mauser pistols.

The latest bulletin on the 'weapons upgrade programme' came following last month's arrest of six men in Guwahati. They carried a consignment that included guns made in Germany and Italy.

"The guns had been smuggled in from Myanmar and were bought at Nagaland's Dimapur town. It indicates that even Naga rebels have those," said a senior police officer.

Meanwhile, the "sales graph" of the AK-series assault rifle has plummeted.

Apparently, Paresh Barua, commander of ULFA, is a prime dealer of Kalashnikovs.

Meanwhile, to indulge in their penchant for pedigree guns, the rebels have begun leaning heavily on the public - hiking the extortion rate by nearly 30%.

Now, besides tea estate owners and big businessmen, even petty traders and politicians are being served pay-up notices.


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