December 2, 2009 10:51:38 am
The outlawed United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) has suffered a severe blow with police in Bangladesh arresting its chairman and founder Arabinda Rajkhowa somewhere near Dhaka. While the arrest took place on late Monday night,the governments in Bangladesh or in New Delhi are yet to officially confirm this majr breakthrough.
With Rajkhowas arrest,the ULFA is left with only one major leader outside,he being selfstyled commander-in-chief Paresh Barua. Another top leader,general secretary Anup Chetia is in custody in Bangladesh and is awaiting extradition to India in the next few months.
Rajkhowa,whose real name is Rajib Rajkonwar,who was among top four leaders who founded the separatist outfit way back in April 7,1979,is understood to have been arrested somewhere near Dhaka on Monday night. Interestingly,it was only on November 5 that two other senior leaders,foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury and finance secretary Chitraban Hazarika were arrested in Bangladesh and handed over to India. Union home secretary GK Pillai however said Choudhury and Hazarika had surrendered to the authorities.
The arrest of Rajkhowa (53),who is likely to be handed over to India in the next couple of days,also looks like paving way for initiating peace talks between the government and the ULFA. While Rajkhowa has been talking about possible peace negotiations with the government,several senior leaders like Choudhury,Hazarika and ideologue Bhimkanta Buragohain (all currently in jail) have been saying that it was Rajkhowa who would take the final decision on holding talks with the government.
Rajkhowas arrest also indicates a vertical division between the pro-talk section of ULFA leaders and the anti-talk section headed by Paresh Barua. The latter has been vehemently opposing the idea of holding any discussion with the government except on the issue of sovereignty.
The arrested ULFA chairman,who did not complete his graduation,is the second of three sons of freedom fighter Umakanta Rajkonwar who passed away three years ago at the age of 101 years. Accused of several cases including that of waging a war against India,Rajkhowa also has an Interpol red corner notice against him,issued on June 4,1997. Out of India since 1992,Rajkhowa is known to keep traveling to Myanmar,Bhutan,Thailand,Bhutan,Pakistan and other countries on fake identity and fake passports.
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