ULFA(I) second in command surrenders formally with four others

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Rangia (Assam)/Shillong, Nov 12 (PTI) Banned ULFA (Independent) second in command Drishti Rajkhowa alias Manoj Rabha along with four members of the outfit formally surrendered to the Unified Command on Thursday at the Army's Red Horns Division here.

Rajkhowa along with self styled 'corporals' Vedanta, Yasin Asom, Rup Jyoti Asom and Mithun Asom were produced before the media in the presence of Red Horns Division GOC Major General Dipak Mehra and Assam Inspector General of Police Hiren Nath.

The five had surrendered before an Army team from Assam at Dilsengre village near the India-Bangladesh border on Wednesday, reports from Shillong said.

50-year-old Rajkhowa, a close confidant of the self styled commander-in-chief of ULFA(I), is considered an explosive expert and was active in the Garo Hills region aiding several other insurgent outfits. He had been an active member of the outfit for the past three decades.

He was an active member of the ULFA(I) for the past 30 years.

They surrendered an AK-81 rifle, four wireless sets, mobile handsets, two pistols, huge quantities of live cartridges and explosives at Rangiya.

They were not allowed to speak to media persons and were whisked away after a while.

Speaking on the occasion, Maj Gen Mehra said that the surrender was possible due to the combined effort and close cooperation between the army, intelligence agencies, Assam and Meghalaya Police and other security agencies of both the states.

The surrender was a result of 'Operation Malakand' which was launched by the Army in close coordination with intelligence agencies, Assam Police and Meghalaya Police at Rangiya in Assam on November 10, he said.

He was an active member of the ULFA(I) for the past 30 years.

Nath told reporters that efforts were being made by various intelligence and security agencies for the past several years to neutralize Rajkhowa.

Rajkhowa's surrender along with four others of the terrorist outfit will certainly deal a severe blow to ULFA(I) which is trying to gain prominence and revive insurgency in lower Assam by undertaking large scale recruitment, the IGP said.

'Rajkhowa and the others will hopefully in the times to come motivate other misguided youth and cadres to follow their lead and come overground to lead a dignified life and work for the betterment of this beautiful region,' he said.

Unified Command remains committed in maintaining peace and normalcy in the region and lead it to the path of progress and prosperity, Nath added.

Meanwhile, a local television channel in Guwahati claimed that Barua had called them to say that Rajkhowa had sought permission to surrender as his wife is ailing.

Meghalaya Director General of Police R Chandranathan said insurgency in the state has come to an end with Rajkhowa's surrender.

'Rajkhowa's surrender marks the end of two-decade-long armed conflict in the restive Garo Hills region in particular and Meghalaya in general,' the DGP told PTI.

Chandranathan said the militant had earlier narrowly escaped twice this year in encounters with the state police.

There are five-six pending cases, including those related to murder and extortion and the Meghalaya Police will pursue legally to get him for trial in the state, he said.

Born Manoj Rabha in Assam's Goalpara district, Rajkhowa is believed to have personally trained several top insurgents in the Garo Hills region in jungle warfare, besides providing several militant outfits with arms and ammunition in exchange for money. PTI COR DG JOP ACD KK KK KK