The government had claimed that ULFA (I) is at an unprecedented low in terms of arsenal and firepower.
New Delhi: The training camps operated by the dreaded Paresh Barua faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA-Independent) in Myanmar house more than 500 militants including women cadres youth comprising both men and women, confession by a militant who surrendered to the security forces on Sunday evening has revealed.
The government’s claims that the ULFA (I) is at an unprecedented low in terms of arsenal, firepower and sheer numbers flies in the backdrop of the latest revelations.
The numbers are all the more significant as the militants are trained in the jungle guerilla style of warfare which believes in hit-and-run tactics.
The surrendered militant Naba Baruah, alias Barud Asom, 27, has told the security forces that the biggest ever congregation of about 500 ULFA (I) cadres that he saw during his four-year-long stay in the Taga ULFA base was during the celebration of Bohag Bihu or the Assamese new year in mid-April this year.
While Paresh Barua and other militant leaders including some from other Northeastern states danced to the traditional sway of the Bihu beats, there were many rings of security for the leadership, he is reported to have told his interrogators.
In Baruah’s training batch alone in 2013 there were about 35 fresh recruits who were trained by five instructors for four months. At the same time there were other training camps scattered around the China-Myanmar border and in Myanmar’s Sagaing Division that had little or no communication between them. One such camp is called the Arakan camp.
A vast array of sophisticated weapons are available in the hands of the cadres which included AK-81, AK-47, AK-56, etc of which the sophisticated AK-81 is easily the favourite, Baruah is reported to have said adding that such Chinese-origin consignments continue to come to the ULFA (I) bases on a regular basis.
These deadly weapons are believed to have been manufactured in the China-Myanmar border regions that are controlled by the Wa insurgents and are usually have a ‘star’ mark.
Intelligence reports since last year had been underscoring that recruitment to the ULFA (I) are on the rise especially from the Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Sivasagar districts. While youth are increasingly getting access to basic and higher education, a deplorable state of affairs on the availability of employment avenues continue to haunt the state as also other states in the region.
Moreover, the prolonged negotiation process between the government and the Arabindo Rajkhowa-led pro-talks ULFA faction failing to make any headway is also leading to a lot of disgruntlement amid fears of a threatened Assamese identity.
ULFA (I), led by Paresh Barua and Dr Abhizeet Asom, the latter suspected to be an UK-based doctor, is steadfastedly opposed to the government’s ongoing talks with the Rajkhowa-led ULFA faction, and operates from training bases in the China-Myanmar border and in Myanmar’s Sagaing Division.
In 2011, the Indian government started negotiations after Bangladeshi security forces in that country arrested several top leaders including Rajkhowa and handed them over to India.
Another 500 ULFA cadres are staying in nine designated camps across Assam and who had come overground thinking negotiations with the government for a solution would be an ideal option.
ULFA was formed in 1979 in Sivasgar with complete sovereignty and independence of Assam as its avowed goal. In the decades of violence that followed, an estimated 12,000 people are believed to have lost their lives.