Paresh Barua, Ulfa commander-in-chief who is believed to be shuttling between Bangladesh and Myanmar-via-Thailand, has made his distance with chairman and political chief Arabinda Rajkhowa apparent through a statement.
Barua’s e-mail last Saturday asked Rajkhowa to ensure that “our respect does not turn into hatred”. The immediate provocation was the handing over of 28 Ulfa leaders and their kin by the Bangladesh authorities.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi feigned ignorance about the rebels on Saturday, but later admitted on Monday that they were “in safe custody”. Many believe New Delhi has successfully driven a wedge between the duo.
The “drama” was not lost on Barua. The statement said the rebels were not captured. “They deserted us according to a
blueprint made by the Indian occupational forces.”
The Ulfa seeks to establish a sovereign Assam through armed struggle. The Centre banned the outfit in 1990.
Since last year, the Ulfa has had many setbacks with the capture of almost the entire top rung — deputy military chief Raju Barua, finance secretary Chitrabon Hazarika and foreign secretary Sashadhar Choudhury, besides Rakhowa.
The statement warned Rajkhowa, who is in Guwahati Jail since his arrest last year, not to toe New Delhi’s line after former Intelligence Bureau chief and government-sanctioned mediator P.C. Haldar met him to push for talks without Barua.
Although Barua has never softened his stand on sovereignty, counter-insurgency specialists say the Ulfa can now sit for talks, as most of its 16-member central executive committee, whose decision is usually not overruled, are either in jail or on bail or under house arrest.