After having suffered sharp reverses when most of the senior leaders were brought out to the negotiating table for peace talks, the Paresh Barua faction of the Ulfa has recouped and organised its operational strength, intelligence sources said. The Barua faction has been resisting all peace overtures.
Senior leaders of the oufit who joined the dialogue with the Centre include Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa and ideologue Bhimkanta Buragohain.
"The Barua faction has been on a recruiting spree drawing its new cadres mainly from the three Upper Assam districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Sivasgar. From November to June, it has recruited more than 100 youths, who have been sent for arms and operational training in the Myanmar-China border. Of this, a group of 30 has re-entered Assam and has engaged in two encounters till now," sources said.
Barua's faction, believed to comprising of 250 heavily-armed fighters, is at present based at Taga, about 70 km away from the Indo-Myanmar border. It is also home to insurgents from the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN), United National Liberation Front and others.
Taga is just about a day's journey from the Chinese border. The area is under the control of the Kachin militia, which has the strength of about 1,50,000 cadres and prominent gun runners in that particular stretch.
"The Barua-led faction is also leading a renewed extortion drive targeting government agencies like the ONGC, tea estates, contractors and government servants in the Upper Assam area. Ulfa's extortion racket has also spread to the Changlang and Lohit districts of Arunachal Pradesh," the intelligence official said.
The Ulfa faction has also threatened 'Indian settlers' in Assam in a recent press release which was issued after the killing of a cadre - Moon Moran - on June 12 in Tinsukia by the security forces.
"While one faction is capturing political space (the Rajkhowa faction) in the state, another one is spreading fear and panic," said another official.