How the top commander of the ULFA-I surrendered after a 9-year effort by an army officer
The tireless efforts of an Indian Army Military Intelligence (MI) wing officer over the past nine years paid off after the surrender of the Deputy Commander-in-Chief (C-in) of the United Liberation Front of Assam-Independent (ULFA-I ) outlawed. -C) Drishti Rajkhowa in neighboring Meghalaya on Wednesday.
Rajkhowa aka Manoj Rabha, a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) expert, was classified alongside ULFA-I C-in-C Paresh Baruah.
Their surrender, along with four other cadres, and lay down their arms and ammunition is likely to be a rude shock to the separatist group, which has been fighting for Assam’s sovereignty since 1979.
The Union Ministry of the Interior (MHA) had banned the insurgent group in 1990 and labeled it a terrorist organization.
“Rajkhowa has been a loyal official of the organization for many years. His surrender was the result of circumstance and was done with the permission of the team. His wife’s health condition was also a major factor leading to the surrender, ”Baruah told local television channels in Guwahati by phone from an undisclosed location abroad.
MI sources said that one of his lieutenant (lieutenant) colonel (colonel) had managed to establish contact with Rajkhowa and his wife in 2011, when the officer was stationed as captain in Shillong.
Rajkhowa was promoted to Executive Vice President by Baruah in November 2011, shortly after a split in the team, when ULFA President Arabinda Rajkhowa and several other senior officials decided to renounce their arms and enter into talks with the government.
“He (the officer) maintained contact (with Rajkhowa) during his assignment in the northeast and gradually developed a relationship with him over the last nine years at his own risk and personal safety,” MI sources said.
The officer continued to persuade Rajkhowa over the years to renounce his weapons and join the mainstream in an attempt to help his home state and its people. The officer managed to make the breakthrough because of the relationship he had developed with members of Rajkhowa’s immediate family.
Rajkhowa relented and agreed to surrender also largely due to his wife’s deteriorating health.
An elaborate plan for the surrender exercise was put in place. Inputs were shared with the Assam-based Indian Army’s 21st Mountain Division via the Director General of MI (DGMI) on Tuesday (Nov 10)
Rajkhowa contacted the officer and reiterated his decision to surrender along with four of his bodyguards. He requested safe passage in an MI vehicle and under the protection of the Indian army from his hiding place near India-Bangladesh in Baghmara in the South Garo Hills district of Meghalaya, to Guwahati.
“The information was shared with DGMI and then communicated to the Indian Army Eastern Command headquarters in Calcutta. The officer coordinated the operation, which began at 2 am on Wednesday (November 11), to take Rajkhowa into military custody and pave the way for his surrender, ”MI sources reported.
The operation lasted about 12 hours.
The ULFA-1 cadres handed over an Avtomat Kalashnikova (AK) -81 assault rifle, two clips and two pistols to the security forces.
“This operation is a game changer when it comes to the Northeast insurgency. The officer deserves congratulations for his tireless pursuit. He managed to persuade Rajkhowa to surrender at great personal risk. It is worthy of special mention and recognition ”, added the MI sources.
Rajkhowa, who was based in neighboring Bangladesh, was responsible for carrying out various operations in recent years and was also the main conduit for supplying weapons to various militant groups active in the volatile northeast region.
His surrender is expected to further weaken Baruah, who is believed to be based in China’s Yunnan province, and travels frequently to various nations in Southeast Asia.
Rajkhowa’s departure from the team could lead others to follow suit, as the insurgent group is believed to be left with only around 200 hardened cadres.
Indian army officers followed protocol and handed Rajkhowa over to Meghalaya police authorities, who handed him over to Assam police on Thursday morning.