Guwahati/Shillong, Nov 12 : The surrender of top ULFA (I) leader Drishti Rajkhowa and four other dreaded cadres of the outfit would facilitate to establish peace in the northeast region and prevent fresh recruitment, army and police officials said on Thursday.
Rajkhowa, the second-in-command of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) after the outfit’s chief Paresh Baruah, and four other top cadres of the group had surrendered to the Meghalaya Police on Wednesday night. On Thursday, they formally surrendered at the army’s Unified Command Headquarters in Rangia under Kamrup Rural district.
Maj Gen Deepak Mehra, GOC of army’s Red Horns Division, told the media that the surrender of Rajkhowa and four other cadres of ULFA (I) has certainly dealt a severe blow to the ulterior motives of the outfit which had been trying to gain prominence and revive insurgency in western Assam by undertaking large scale recruitment.
“Drishti Rajkhowa and his associates will, in the times to come, motivate other misguided youths and cadres to follow their lead and come overground to lead a dignified life and work for the betterment of this beautiful region.
“The Unified Command remains committed to maintain peace and normalcy in the region and lead it to the path of progress and prosperity,” said Maj Gen Mehra, accompanied by senior Assam and Meghalaya police officials.
Besides 50-year-old Rajkhowa alias Manoj Rabha, the other four cadres are self-styled corporal Vedanta (27), Yasin Asom (25), Rop Jyoti Asom (25) and Mithun Asom (22).
Some sophisticated arms and ammunition, including AK series rifles, were deposited in the surrender ceremony.
Rajkhowa, who is a close confidant of ULFA (I) supremo Paresh Baruah, was in Bangladesh until recently and had come to Meghalaya last month.
The ULFA (I), which was banned by the government in 1990, has been demanding an independent state of Assam.
Another faction of ULFA has been holding peace talks with the Centre since 2011. The pro-talk faction of ULFA had submitted their demands and conditions to the Centre.
The peace talks got a fresh impetus with the joining of ULFA General Secretary, Anup Chetia, after he was extradited to India in November 2015 from Bangladesh.
ULFA (I), which is also known as anti-talk ULFA, had earlier refused to join the peace process unless sovereignty was made the main agenda of the discussions.
In Shillong, Meghalaya Director General of Police R. Chandranathan said on Thursday that with the surrender of Rajkhowa and four others, insurgency in the state has come to an end.
The Meghalaya government had formed a 10 company-strong counter-insurgency force — Special Force-10 — in 2014 to deal with the terrorists. Since then, it has neutralised several top insurgents in the region, including Garo National Liberation Army’s self-styled commander-in-chief Sohan D. Shira in February 2018.