The most important militant leader in the northeast after Paresh Barua of the Ulfa, Raj Kumar Sanayaima aka Meghen, was arrested in East Champaran district of Bihar on Tuesday.
He has been brought to Guwahati, where he will be produced before court on Thursday. A joint team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the state police picked up Meghen, chairman of the banned United National Liberation Front (UNLF), when he was allegedly trying to slip away to Nepal.
Earlier, reports on Meghen's disappearance from Dhaka, where he had been reportedly camping, created quite a flutter among his family, friends and supporters in Manipur.
The Bangladesh Communist Party informed the Communist Party of India leader AB Bardhan that Meghen had been picked up by a combined team of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and its Bangladesh equivalent and had been sent to India.
Bardhan wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh: "It will be in the fitness of things if the Hon'ble Prime Minister … reveals his arrest and make his whereabouts known to the public at the earliest."
The UNLF charged that he was taken to New Delhi. His wife, RK Ibemnungshi, petitioned the Imphal bench of the Guwahati High Court, accusing security agencies of kidnapping and confining Meghen at an undisclosed location.
Political leaders of different camps raised an alarm over the whereabouts of Meghen and threatened to sensitise President Pratibha Patil and Parliament about the issue.
But NIA officer CP Mina, who was part of the team that arrested Meghen on Tuesday, said the 64-year-old rebel leader had escaped from Dhaka after his arrest on September 29. He said reports on Meghen's escape were published in Bangladesh newspapers. A case had also been lodged by the NIA in this connection.
Police in Motihari, a Bihar town close to the Nepal border, said Meghen was arrested at a point where he was waiting for a Nepal-bound bus. He had been staying in Nepal as Raju Shreshtha and had been visiting Bihar regularly.
Meghen's elder brother, RK Ranendrajit Singh, who is a former fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force summed up the drama: "Meghen's arrest was over-dramatised like a third-rate Bollywood plot."