Assam Police kill rebels, ULFA cries foul

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The two men killed are said to be experts in executing IED blasts, and had triggered a blast killing an Army jawan last month

Ratnadip Choudhury 
Guwahati

The Paresh Baruah led hardliner faction of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has raised allegations of ‘fake encounter’ against security forces and alleged that the security personnel have gunned down its two hardcore cadres in ‘cold blood’ on 5 August evening in Goalpara districts.

The encounter was seen as a major success, since a joint team of Guwahati city police along with the Army had gunned down two ULFA cadres in Goalpara District of Lower Assam, who were suspected to be involved in carrying out IED blasts in Goalpara district on 23 July, which left one Army jawan dead and several critically injured.

“There was no encounter as claimed by the security forces and the police. Our cadres were unarmed and they were detained, tortured and shot in cold blood. This was a cowardly act by the security personnel. While we condemn this, we also reiterate killing of our cadres in fake encounters is nothing new—it has been on for years—because some police officials want to improve their service record. We would not tolerate this for long,” said self-styled lieutenant Arunoday Asom, the assistant information and publicity secretary, ULFA, in a press statement.

On Sunday morning, a special team was dispatched from Guwahati to Goalpara after the cops received a specific tip off about a team of three hardcore ULFA cadres hiding in remote areas of Dhupdhara police station in Goalpara district. A combined team of Assam Police, along with Army, from its base at Rangjuli near Dhupdhara launched a search operation in the interiors of Dhupdhara near the Assam-Meghalaya border. As they approached Ganeshjuli village, a fierce gun battle, which lasted for a few hours, broke out. Later during combing operation, two bullet riddled bodies of ULFA cadres were found.

The slain cadres, according to police sources, have been identified as Raghu Roy and Ratul Rabha. Both of them were suspected to be part of the ULFA team that had carried out the powerful IED blast at Bamonghopa, about 1 km away from the Naranarayan Setu, a bridge over Brahmaputra that connects Goalpara with Bongaigaon district.

In the press statement ULFA claimed that Ratul Rabha was suffering from critical kidney ailment and his junior cadre Raghu Roy was taking care of him when the security personnel picked them up.

Cops further added that another ULFA rebel has sustained bullet injuries and might have tried to abscond to neighbouring Gaor hills in Meghalaya where ULFA is said to have been sharing bases with the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA). The injured rebel is suspected to be Saurav Gogoi, a hardcore ULFA cadre who is an IED expert and have been sent to Lower Assam to carry out a series of attacks ahead of Independence Day.

Sources further added that several groups of ULFA rebels have entered Assam through Nagaland and Meghalaya from their bases in Myanmar and Bangladesh. Top commander of the hard line faction of ULFA, Dhristi Rajkhowa, is also hiding in GNLA camp in the Garo hills and taking direct instruction from Commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah to hit specific targets in Lower Assam, which is grappling with ethnic unrest.

Ratnadip Choudhury is a Principal Correspondent with Tehelka. 
[email protected]

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