Rajkhowa handed over to Indian authorities in Meghalaya | india | Hindustan Times
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Rajkhowa handed over to Indian authorities in Meghalaya

ULFA’s top leaders Arabinda Rajkhowa and Raju Barua surrendered to the Indian authorities early this morning raising hopes of a dialogue for peace in Assam but differences erupted in the banned militant outfit.

india Updated: Dec 04, 2009 22:05 IST

ULFA’s top leaders Arabinda Rajkhowa and Raju Barua surrendered to the Indian authorities early this morning raising hopes of a dialogue for peace in Assam but differences erupted in the banned militant outfit.

Two days after he was reportedly detained in Bangladesh, ULFA Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa (53), and Deputy Chief of its military operations Raju Barua (43) were taken into custody by the Border Security Force after they were “seen” near Dawki outpost on the India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya.

They were spotted around 1.15 am and when “challenged” by the BSF they offered to surrender, BSF Inspector General Prithviraj said.

In New Delhi, Home Secretary G K Pillai said the ULFA leaders will have to face judicial process for cases pending against them while it is understood that heinous charges may not be pressed against them.

The arrival of ULFA leadership in India raised hopes of initiation of a peace talks with the outlawed group whose leadership had taken shelter in Bangladesh and directed violence mostly in Assam from there for the last 30 years.

However, reflecting the differences in top ULFA leadership the elusive commander-in-chief Paresh Barua asked Rajkhowa not to fall into the “trap” of Indian government by holding a peace dialogue.

Rajkhowa's wife Kaveri Kachari (42), daughter Kanchan Bhagiraj Konwar (13) and son Galadhar (5), Barua's wife Nirola Neog (38) and their 10-month old son, Rajkhowa's bodyguard Raja Barua (31) also crossed into the Indian border, he said.

Runima Choudhury (41), wife of ULFA's self-styled foreign secretary Sasadhar Choudhury, and their eight-year-old son Sisir Choudhury also came in, he said. They were taken to Guwahati by road in a convoy of seven vehicles under tight security.

The ULFA leaders are expected to be produced before a judge in Guwahati for taking them in police custody while the family members may be set free because they face no charges.

Asked about the possibility of holding a peace talk with the ULFA leaders, Pillai said in Delhi that "they have just come. Everything will take place in due course. Wait for that."

About the family members, he said as no cases are pending against them they are free to go.

In an email statement sent from an undisclosed location, Paresh Barua appealed to Rajkhowa to not to fall into the "trap" of the Indian Government.

"I appeal to you to declare your present stand keeping in mind the sacrifice of 12,000 martyrs who laid down their lives for an independent Assam as well as the people of Assam who crave for independence," he said.

"The Indian government has 'hatched a dirty politics' in the name of initiating dialogue with the ULFA and we demand that the Indian government should desist from such an 'evil practice'," he said in the statement issued in Assamese.

Baruah also asked Rajkhowa to clarify his stand publicly as people of Assam have been in confusion and puzzled over the recent media reports about the latter's detention.

"Besides it is your (Rajkhowa) moral responsibility to clarify your present stand which will help clear the confusion and puzzle that is engulfing the minds of the people of Assam," he said.

Rajkhowa, founder member of the outfit, was detained in Bangladesh recently. He is among four people who founded the separatist outfit on April 7, 1979.

Indications of government opening talks with ULFA were given by Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday when he told the Rajya Sabha that the outfit is likely to make a political statement in the next few days.

"ULFA is in disarray today. In next few days, the ULFA leadership will make a political statement. Our government is prepared to talk to ULFA provided they abjure violence and there is no demand for sovereignty," he had said.

Rajkhowa, whose real name is Rajib Rajkonwar, is the son of a freedom fighter Umakanta Rajknowar, who died three years ago.

Accused in several cases, including that of waging war against India, Rajkhowa has an Interpol Red Corner notice against him. He has been out of India since 1992 and is said to have lived in places including Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bhutan.

Two other top ULFA leaders, self-styled Finance Secretary Chitrabon Hazarika and Foreign Secretary Sasha Choudhury had been arrested in Bangladesh in November last and handed over to Assam police in whose custody they are lodged at present.

The developments assume significance in view of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to India slated later this month and also the signing of three proposed agreements, including an extradition treaty and another on combating international terrorism.