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Terrorist, turns a successful businesswoman

Dwipamani Kalita once a bomber today prefers the aromas of spices instead.

india Updated: Oct 03, 2005 19:48 IST

Until a year ago DwipamaniKalita was passionate about her role as a bomber of a frontline rebel outfit in Assam. Today she prefers the aromas of spices instead.

Adept at handling mortars and explosives, Kalita was the darling of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) because she carried out with élan violent 'missions' assigned by the rebel leadership.

Police say she had been involved in at least five major attacks since 2002, including two deadly mortar strikes in Guwahati in 2003 in which three people were killed and 21 wounded, among them an MP who sustained splinter injuries.

Today this 26-year-old loathes even the smell of explosives. She has instead developed a penchant for cooking Assamese delicacies. Kalita, who surrendered to the authorities, now runs two popular restaurants in Guwahati - both specialising in Assamese dishes.

"I am trying to introduce new dishes to attract clients to my restaurants," Kalita, better known as Shristi Sharma during her ULFA days, told IANS.

She was supported by the Assam Police to start the restaurants under a special rehabilitation package for surrendered rebels.

Her initiation to the world of militancy was as dramatic as her return to the mainstream last year.

Hailing from Ghograpara village in the western district of Nalbari, Kalita was a bright student and secured 75 percent marks in her Class 10 examination.

When she was a first year college student in 1998, her father was killed under mysterious circumstances, and that made Kalita determined to avenge her father's death.

Her 'killer instinct' impressed local ULFA leaders who convinced her into joining the outfit in 1998. The ULFA sent her to Bangladesh for training.

"In Bangladesh I was trained to fire 60 mm mortars, light machine guns, rocket propelled grenades, besides the AK series rifles," Kalita said.

After the training, she was inducted into the ULFA's 'demolition squad' also known as Enigma Unit, which is responsible for carrying out violent strikes.

While the army and police were putting up barricades during Christmas in 2003 following intelligence reports of the Enigma Unit having sneaked into the city, Kalita carried mortars in a bag slung over her shoulder. She also travelled in buses.

"I stayed in the city and maintained a very low profile and did my task without ever being suspected even by my neighbours," she said.

After the twin mortar strikes in Guwahati, she called up senior police officials and ridiculed them for failing to prevent the attacks.

"I was surprised when Khagen Sharma (Inspector General, Intelligence, Assam Police) instead of rebuking or abusing me on the phone tried to reason with me and said the ULFA was using me for its own gains," she said.

"I began analysing what he told me and soon good sense prevailed."

The rest was history,she surrendered before police authorities .

"I now regret what I did in the past. Today I am indeed happy as I am leading a dignified life and am also able to give employment to many youths," Kalita said.

First Published: Oct 03, 2005 19:48 IST