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ULFA camp plunge in crisis
Published on 17 Nov. 2009 1:09 AM IST
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United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) is facing a major crisis as majority of the central committee members of the outfit are now behind bars and only four of the top brass of the outfit are at large, and they are out of India. Police sources told The Assam Tribune said that among the central committee members of the outfit, chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa is reportedly in Bangladesh, while, the commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah is reportedly moving in three countries-China, Myanmar and Thailand. The deputy C-in-C Raju Baruah is also in Bangladesh and he travels to Nepal from time to time, while, another central committee member Jiban Moran is in Myanmar. Police pointed out that most of the central committee members of the ULFA are now behind the bars. Foreign Secretary Sasha Choudhury and Finance Secretary Chitraban Hazarika, who were picked up in Bangladesh recently, are in police custody, while, vice-chairman Pradeep Gogoi, Cultural Secretary Pranati Deka, Publicity Secretary Mithinga Daimary and Adviser Bhimkanta Buragohain are in jail going through trials. One central committee member Robin Handique already breathed his last and three other senior members – Ashanta Baghphukan, Robin Neog and Benning Rabha were missing since the operation all clear launched by Bhutan Army to drive out the militants camping in that country. On the functioning of the ULFA, police sources said that Paresh Baruah is the main person running the outfit at present and during questioning by police, Sasha Choudhury and Chitraban Hazarika also corroborated the fact. Though the ULFA suffered another major setback after the A and C companies of the 28 battalion of the outfit declared unilateral cease-fire to express their desire to solve the problems through talks, the remaining cadres of the battalion are still active in some parts of upper Assam and are maintaining their bases in Myanmar. Police sources revealed that according to information available, the ULFA has three main camps in Myanmar—the headquarter of the 28 battalion, Naga base, which is maintained along with members of the NSCN (K) and the Aarakan camp. Sources said that according to information available, apart from Jiban Moran, other prominent ULFA members including Bijoy Chinese alias Bijoy Das, Antu Chowdang, Haren Phukan and Sujit Mohan are in the Myanmar bases of the outfit. Chowdang, who is reportedly very close to Paresh Baruah, is believed to be the main man masterminding the operations of the outfit in upper Assam, sources added. Sources said that efforts are on by the ULFA to revive the 27 battalion in the areas of Nagaon, parts of Karbi Anglong , Morigaon and Sonitpur. After his release on bail, the commander of the battalion, Pallab Saikia has taken over the reigns of the wing and he is trying to revive the outfit along with other hardcore militants like Baccha Singh and Sagar Toppo, sources said. The 109 battalion of the ULFA is mainly responsible for transhipment of arms and explosives from Bangladesh and is headed by Drishti Rajkhowa, who is running the operations from Bangladesh. Sources said that Rajkhowa is not staying in Dhaka but he is living near the Indo-Bangla border. The members of the outfit mostly use the international border in Garo Hills of Meghalaya and the riverrine border in Dhubri for smuggling in weapons from Bangladesh. The 709 battalion, headed by dreaded militant Hira Sarania is active in lower Assam districts and there have been instances when members of the battalion even launched joint operations including kidnappings along with the members of the anti-talk faction of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB). According to intelligence inputs, despite deployment of SSB personnel along the international border with Bhutan, the militants of the 709 battalion managed to take advantage of the terrain along the international border to establish some transit camps in the neighbouring country and India has already taken up the issue with the Government of Bhutan, sources said. ULFA’s outburst The ULFA, which has been regarding Bangladesh as a safe haven with its top leaders sheltered there, today said infiltration from that country is posing a treat to Assam’s demography -- the first time the banned group spoke on the influx issue. “We (ULFA) are against large-scale infiltration from that country (Bangladesh) which has threatened to change the demographic pattern of Assam and make the indigenous people a minority,” arrested ULFA vice-chairman Pradip Gogoi said here. “The problem is big and has resulted in identity crisis for the indigenous people,” Gogoi told reporters here. He was arrested in 1998 in Kolkata and was taken to Gauhati Medical College today for a health check. His statement against infiltration is the first from the banned group, which had so far regarded Bangladesh as a safe haven with its top leaders sheltered there.

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