Militancy a past, former rebels eager to cast their first vote
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While all but three of these former rebels are going home to cast votes for the first time, they are not sure whom to support. "It is still difficult to differentiate good from bad," said Pijush Debbarma (22) of Lambucherra village in Khowai district, who was with the All Tripura Tiger Force from 2003 to 2011 when he surrendered.
Over 1,700 rebels belonging to different armed insurgent groups of Tripura have surrendered since 1998, and so far 1,285 have been covered under various rehabilitation schemes.
The NLFT, ATTF and a few splinter groups were together responsible for 3,479 insurgency-related fatalities between 1992 and 2010, official figures say.
Though insurgency has faded away, with the NLFT left with about 150 cadres and ATTF about 20, all holed up in Bangladesh, political parties continue to trade charges on the patronage of these rebel groups. "Beware, the Congress is in league with the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipera that was founded by former TNV rebels," warns the CPM. The Congress hits back, saying the birth of terrorism in Tripura is directly linked to the rise of the Left Front. For Dhanhari Jamatiya, Palakbati Reang, Pijush Debbarma and Kantamoni Tripura and others, all that they know is that someone misguided them.