GUWAHATI: The Ulfa (Independent)’s one of the most elusive leader Drishti Rajkhowa alias Manoj Rabha, known as the Number 2 in the outfit after its chief Paresh Baruh, fell into police net on Wednesday evening in Meghalaya.
Though sounds simple but it was not. As per top military sources, it was the result of some nine-year-long operation and persuasion by the security forces.
Superintendent of Police, East Garo Hills Bruno Sangma revealed that Rajkowa, the Deputy Commander in Chief of Ulfa (I) has informed security forces that due to heavy operation in Bangladesh against insurgents they had to flee and contacted army officials to surrender.
According to sources, an Army intelligence officer was in touch with Rajkhowa since 2011. After long persuasion and negotiation, Rajkhowa finally hinted about his desire to surrender a few days back, sources added.
Immediately, a detailed plan was crafted in Delhi and the responsibility of the execution of the plan was bestowed on Assam based Red Horns Division of the Indian Army.
As per the plan, security forces along with Meghalaya police put up Naka checkings at different vulnerable points and at around 6:30 pm on Wednesday two vehicles were intercepted at Nongal area, Meghalaya police said, while informing that along with Rajkowa, four others Ulfa (I) militants were identified.
They were traveling in two vehicles bearing Assam registration number.
The four others were identified are – Yashin Ali aka Axom (25) of Lakhipur, Rup Jyoti Rabha aka Lombu (25) from Krisnai, Babul Rabha aka Babul (22) from Goalpara and Rahul Hazarika aka Laden (27) from Moran in Assam.
During their verification, security forces found arms and ammunition from their possession – one AK rifle, two 9 mm pistols, around 90 rounds of AK-81 ammunition and some nine rounds of 9 mm live bullets with eight rounds of .32 ammunition.
Subsequently, Indian Army officials followed the protocol and handed over Rajkhowa to Meghalaya Police authorities, who later turned him to Assam Police on Thursday morning.
An RPG expert, Rajkohwa was the commander of 109 Battalion of ULFA (I) until 2011 after which he was promoted to the rank of deputy commander. Sources said it was during that period only when the military intelligent personnel established contact with him.
A close confidant of Ulfa (I) chief Paresh Baruah, Rajkhowa was the key person of the outfit to grew nexus with the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), an outfit from Meghalaya mostly active in Garo hills neighbouring Assam’s Goalpara district. Rajkhowa originally hails from Rongjuli in Goalpara district.
He was Ulfa (I)’s go-to person for the outfit’s arms trafficking racket to Bangladesh and is wanted in several gunrunning and extortion cases in the lower Assam region.
It was believed that he had been hiding in Mymensingh city of Bangladesh before fleeing to Dilsengre village in South Garo Hills. Rajkowa had crossed over from Gaobari village from Bangladesh.
It’s believed that Rajkhowa’s capturing would not only be a major jolt in the militant group but would also encourage other militants to come overground and join the mainstream.