Elusive Ulfa-Independent chief Paresh Barua, accused by deserters of controlling the hostile-again NSCN-K and its ailing supremo SS Khaplang, no longer trusts his own cadre for protection. So he reportedly uses two Bangladeshi mercenaries – both former Harkat-ul Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) members – as his bodyguards.
Barua, who has extensive contacts in Pakistani and Chinese intelligence agencies, is wanted dead or alive by New Delhi. The hunt intensified after the Ulfa-I forged an anti-India front with NSCN-K and other northeast rebel outfits earlier this year to carry out several terror attacks, including the Manipur ambush that killed 18 soldiers.
But Barua, intelligence inputs say, is paranoid about being guarded by his Ulfa-I fighters.
Instead, he uses the two hired Bangladeshis to protect him round the clock and even cook his meals to eliminate the threat of poisoning.
The Ulfa-I reportedly has less than 150 fighters who have been sharing hideouts of NSCN-K in Myanmar’s Sagaing division after Barua was forced to leave Bangladesh in 2011. The headcount went down after Barua had a senior functionary, Partha Pratim Gogoi, and his followers executed last year for working against the outfit and trying to talk the cadre into quitting.
“Ever since, Barua has been apprehensive of his own Ulfa boys, not sure who will desert him. He entrusted his own security to two Bangladeshis,” an intelligence agency insider said.
The two ex-HuJI bodyguards are Alamgir Hossain and his cousin Md Gholam Nabi. Both belong to the Karatkhil village in Noakhali district of Bangladesh and are 29 years old according to their passports. Their passport numbers are AA8392264 and AA1463448, respectively.
Hossain and Nabi are the only ones who live with Barua in his Ruili hideout on the Sino-Myanmar border. They accompany him everywhere and cook for him to ensure he is not poisoned, the insider said.
An Assam Police officer corroborated the information minus the details. Barua, he said, hired the two Bangladeshis when he used to stay in Dhaka’s upscale Gulshan locality, near the Egyptian embassy.
The Ulfa-I is yet to react, though sympathisers say the information could be part of New Delhi’s ‘misinformation campaign’.
According to intelligence officials, the Ulfa-I chief shifted base to Ruili via Kunming, the headquarters of China’s Yunnan province that shares its western and south-western border with Myanmar. Kunming has direct flight connectivity to Dhaka.
Of late, however, Barua is believed to have moved to Tengchong, which according to the Myanmar map is also on the China border and is 25-30km west of Ruili.
Days before the Manipur ambush on June 4, Barua was said to have been seen in the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang’s (NSCN-K) Taga base east of the Arunachal Pradesh-Nagaland-Myanmar tri-junction. Taga is a week’s trip from Tengchong by vehicle, boat and on foot.
Barua also maintains a small base at Maungdaw in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine province adjoining Mizoram and Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill tracts. Barua reportedly had help from friends in the Bangladeshi intelligence in setting up the Maungdaw base through Rohingya contacts, the officials said.
Maungdaw and Buthidaung are among the few Myanmar towns controlled by Rohingyas in the communally-torn Rakhine area.