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‘Fake Ulfa’ targets trader
GUWAHATI, JUL 20 (AGENCIES):
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Published on 20 Jul. 2010 11:43 PM IST
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A new breed of criminals — “fake Ulfa” — are serving extortion notes to businessmen in Upper Assam in the name of the militant outfit, causing fresh concern to security forces.
“On several occasions, the criminals have sent bullets along with the demand notes to convince businessmen that the letters were indeed from Ulfa,” a senior police official in Tinsukia district said. The security forces believe that the extortionists have probably picked up this new technique from militant outfits in Manipur, which often leave grenades at the residences of their targets — government officials or politicians — as a signature and to create fear. Although the police have failed to arrest any person involved in the racket, they are convinced that criminals in the name of Ulfa were serving these demand notes, reported Telegraph.
“Though these demand notes are on Ulfa stationery, they are not signed by the outfit’s leaders. Moreover, Ulfa is hardly a force to reckon with, at least in Upper Assam, although it is trying to reassert itself, as is evident from a few incidents recently. A few hardcore militants, who are still underground, are taking shelter in Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh or Myanmar,” the official said.
Upper Assam has remained by and large free of militant violence in the past couple of years, especially after the Alpha and Charlie companies of Ulfa’s 28th battalion, declared a unilateral ceasefire in June last year. Sources said Ulfa’s coffers had been depleted with the outfit’s fund collection drive in the tea and oil-rich Upper Assam taking a beating. “There are also reports of militants, holed up in Myanmar camps, facing financial crisis,” an army official, involved in counter insurgency operations in Upper Assam, said.
The outfit had distributed a few demand notes to tea estate owners, having gardens along the Assam-Nagaland border, especially in Charaideo subdivision of Sivasagar district, about a year back. But heavy presence of security personnel along the Assam-Nagaland border had foiled attempts by the militants to collect money.
The police official said the business community in Upper Assam has also come out of the fear they had for the militants a few years back.
“Unlike earlier days, we get information immediately if and when a businessman is served such a notice, be it fake or not,” he said.
The police official said a few persons, who may be involved in the racket, have been identified and operations are on to apprehend them.
On the other hand, he said the involvement of some cadres of the ceasefire group of Ulfa in these incidents could not be ruled out.
“Bullets are easily available with these Ulfa cadres who are in ceasefire. We suspect these cadres could be involved in this racket, even if it is without the knowledge of their leaders,” the official said, adding there are reports of a few former militants ganging up with criminals and running the racket.

 
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