NATIONAL SECURITY: 15 Ulfa rebels in cop custody – Bangla pushes militants across border – masterminds still at large, could mean a massive backlash, so far greater vigilance necessary ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU
Sept. 24: Fifteen middle-ranking Ulfa leaders and their families, including eight women and five children, were handed over to Assam police by the BSF in Meghalaya today.
A police official in West Garo Hills of Meghalaya said the BSF had detained the Ulfa members, their wives and children on Wednesday night after they were “pushed back” by the BDR in the border village of Halchati near Mahendraganj.
Sources in Dhaka claimed that at least 20 members of the outfit were “pushed back”. They said the rebels and many of their family members were picked up from their bases in the country yesterday. They include some leaders like commander Anu Burgohain, Biju Deka, Bhaiti Baruah and Pradyut Gohain.
The move is being seen as a renewed offensive against Ulfa and comes at a time when a 20-member Indian delegation, headed by BSF chief Raman Srivastava is in Dhaka to meet BDR officials on terrorism, insurgency, cross-border infiltration and smuggling of fake Indian currency.
Last year, Dhaka had pushed back some of its top leaders, including Rajkhowa, Barua, foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury and finance secretary Chitraban Hazarika, into India. In May, it pushed back NDFB chairman Ranjan Daimary.
Sources in Guwahati tonight said Assam police had arrested the Ulfa members in Meghalaya and were bringing them here in six vehicles.
“The operation was carried out in almost the same manner as the one involving Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa,” one of them said. They indicated that the rebels had “surrendered” to join the pro-talks group and added that it was a big blow to Ulfa commander-in-chief Paresh Barua.
Barua claimed in an email, “Some of our cadres with their family members fled the camp with the help of Indian intelligence agencies and also with the active support of two of our senior jailed leaders and are now taking shelter in the enemy camp.”
The mail added that Ulfa cadres were not “demoralised” by the defections.
Pro-talks Ulfa leader Jiten Dutta told The Telegraph, “We came to know about it (that 15 middle-rung leaders were being brought to India) yesterday. The process to bring them over to India had started long back…at the same time Rajkhowa was nabbed,” he said. Of those arrested, Pradyut Gohain, Apurba Baruah, Arpan Saikia and Biju Deka were “captains” while Anu Borgohain was a “lieutenant”, he added.
Dutta said these leaders had reportedly left the outfit following differences with Barua over the proposed peace process.
“The development only goes to indicate that a majority of Ulfa leaders are in favour of peace talks but have been forced to stay with the outfit because of Paresh Barua, who is against talks. In Myanmar also, a couple of senior leaders are against talks,” he said.
Dutta said the government needed to take the talks issue seriously given the overwhelming desire of the outfit’s members to give peace a chance.