Born in Bangladesh and brought up in a Muslim environment, the children of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) chairman don’t know they are Hindus. They aren’t also aware they are Assamese, or that their father is a rebel named Arabinda Rajkhowa wanted for secessionism in India.
The story is no different for ULFA deputy commander-in-chief Raju Barua, caught along with Rajkhowa from Meghalaya last Friday, or the outfit’s foreign secretary Sashadhar Chhoudhury, arrested last month from Tripura.
Three women and four children had ‘surrendered’ along with Rajkhowa (real name Rajib Rajkonwar), Barua (Hitesh Kalita) and the former’s bodyguard Raja Bora (Palash Phukan). “The children are free to go anytime they want as also the women, who don’t have any charges against them,” said Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Monday.
One of these women is Kaveri Kachari (42), wife of Rajkhowa and head of the ULFA’s women’s wing. Their daughter Khonsang Bohagi (13) and son Gadadhar (10) are being housed in the guesthouse of the 4th Assam Police Battalion here.
Kaveri Kachari has the wife of ULFA foreign secretary Sashadhar Choudhury’s wife Runima Chetia (41) and Raju Barua’s wife Nirola Neog (30) for company. Also in the guesthouse are Choudhury’s daughter Shishirkana (8) and Barua’s daughter Pragati (10).
“The children, though, know each other or are used to being called by their Muslim names, which we will be furnishing soon,” said IGP (Special Branch) Khagen Sarma. “They speak Bengali and are not aware they are Assamese. They are also not aware they are Hindus.”
This, officials said, was understandable. The children know Rajkhowa by his ‘Bangladeshi identity’ – Mijanur Rahman Choudhury. Likewise Barua’s daughter know him as Anees Ahmed while Shishirkana thinks her father Sashadhar Choudhury is Rafiqul Islam.
Given the children’s ignorance of Assamese, the Assam Police has employed Bengali or Bengali-speaking officers to communicate. Interactions revealed the children were happily unaware their fathers were wanted for murder, extortion and secession in India. “They are convinced they are Bangladeshis, and this is evident of the indoctrination they were subjected to by ISI and jihadi groups which have been controlling the ULFA and its subversive operations,” an Intelligence officer said.