Black Widow (BW), a breakaway faction of the Dimasa outfit – Dima Halim Daogah (DHD), was formed in the aftermath of a coup by Pranab Nunisa, the DHD ‘military wing’ chief, against Jewel Garlossa, the then DHD president, on June 24, 2004. Nunisa, in a press statement, alleged that Garlossa had already formed a separate outfit on March 31, 2003, named Black Widow, which also has an armed wing.
Reports of a split within the BW surfaced with the arrest of a group of eight cadres in the Meghalaya capital Shillong on October 15, 2007. The breakaway group is led by Action Dimasa, the third in the hierarchy in the outfit. Dimasa was suspected to have killed one of the wives of Jewel Garlossa in August 2007 and had been on the run since then to avoid being eliminated. The arrested cadres of the breakaway faction were in Shillong to buy arms for the outfit.
The outfit claims to fight for safeguarding the identity of the Dimasa tribe. Its declared objective is to create a separate homeland, within the Constitution of India, for the Dimasa tribe comprising the Dimasa-dominated areas such as the North Cachar Hills (NC Hills), Cachar and Karbi Anglong districts of Assam and parts of the Dimapur district in Nagaland.
Leadership and Cadre
Jewel Garlossa heads the BW while Phaiprang Dimasa is the outfit's ‘publicity secretary’.
The outfit's deputy commander-in-chief Franky Dimasa was arrested on March 22, 2008 from the Fatasil Ambari area of Guwahati city. His arrest followed a statement by arrested 'area commander' of the outfit Daniel Garlossa who had arrived in Guwahati from Dimapur in Nagaland by the Brahmaputra mail, along with Dimasa. Garlossa had been arrested on March 18, 2008.
The BW, according to official sources, is estimated to have a cadre-strength of about 300 militants, 100 of whom are believed to be armed with AK series rifles and a handful of Rocket Propelled Grenade launchers.
Area of operation
The outfit operates primarily in the NC Hills district, one of the biggest districts covering an area of 4980 sq km. It is also active in the Cachar and the Nagaon districts and has a strong presence in the Dimasa inhabited areas of Dhansiri area in the Karbi Anglong district.
The BW militants currently enjoy a free run in the North Cachar Hills district and have engaged in periodic violence. In fact, all the 13 security forces (SF) casualties in the district in 2006 were ascribed to the Black Widow. The outfit also accounted for seven civilian casualties. The SF presence and operations in the district appear to have little impact on the Black Widow, as not a single cadre from this group figured in the six militant fatalities recorded in the district in 2006. Black Widow has periodically set up clashes with DHD cadres and has been able to establish an upper hand in the NC Hills. More than half of the militant fatalities in the district have been due to the internecine clashes between the two groups.
On June 8, 2007, Assam Police sources said that the BW is trying to extend its area of operation to the northeastern flank of Cachar district. Sources also revealed that nearly two dozen people living in the Harinagar and Jaipur enclaves along Cachar’s northeastern boundary with North Cachar had received extortion notices. The notices, either sent by post or hand-delivered, demand amounts between INR 50,000 and INR 5 lakh.
The group indulges in extortion and abduction for ransom that comprises a major source of financial support.
This group also receives aid from wealthy Dimasas residing in various places of Assam.
The BW group is reportedly targeting the tea gardens owners, Government servants and the contractors involved in various development projects, including the gauge conversion project of the Indian Railways, the National Highway project, projects of the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation, etc. Two national projects- the Silchar-Lumding Railway Gauge Conversion and the Express Highway- have been hampered badly due to rampant extortion by the BW cadres.
The groups also extorts money from various leaders and activists belonging to the Congress party and others. For instance, BW militants killed the former Chief Executive Member of the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council, Purnendu Langthasa, and a former executive member of the Council, Nindu Langthasa, at Langlai Hasnu village in the NC Hills district on June 4, 2007. Both were candidates of the ruling Congress party for the June 12-Autonomous District Council (ADC) election. The BW had been demanding an amount of INR 150 million from the party for the safety of its candidates for the elections. While claiming responsibility for the killing of Purnendu and Nindu, BW ‘publicity secretary’ Phaiprang Dimasa indicated that both had offered money after failing to adhere to the demand for reservation of constituencies in the ADC polls. On April 26, the outfit had apparently asked the party to reserve three of the five newly created constituencies for BW representatives and had warned against making any attempt to "buy peace". The Congress had decided to ‘allot’ only two.
Extortion activity linked to the Black Widow has been reported from the North Cachar Hills, Cachar and Karbi Anglong districts.
The Black Widow outfit reportedly has links with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) and is extending support to it. The NSCN- IM allegedly provides weaponry, training and shelter to the BW cadres in its camps. Dilip Nunisa, the DHD chief, has accused the NSCN-IM of training Black Widow cadres at Camp Hebron near Dimapur town in Nagaland. Reports have also revealed that the NSCN-IM receives a share of the extorted money collected by the Black Widow group.
Reports indicate that in exchange for a share of its funds, the Naga outfit trains and arms BW cadres. NSCN-IM facilities in Nagaland have also been used by the BW cadres during security force raids in the NC Hills. Apart from the flow of finances, links with the BW help the NSCN-IM maintain a crucial level of influence in the District, which forms a part of its ‘Greater Nagaland’ (Nagalim) project.
Note:Compiled from news reports and are provisional.