New Signals from North-East.
Suspicion is strong that China provided and sold arms to the North-Eastern insurgents on a regular basis through Bangladesh. Hostile powers and hostile religious groups have throughout been hurting India by collaborating with the insurgents of the North-East and elsewhere too.
The Chairman of the United Liberation Front of Assam Arabinda Rajkhowa and the self-styled ULFA "foreign secretary" Shashadhar Choudhury have recently made very sensational disclosures about ULFA's connections with the enemy elements of India in Pakistan, Bangladesh, China and most surprisingly indeed with even so remote a personality like the Nobel laureate Jose Ramos Horta of East Timor. Horta tried to familiarize ULFA with the international community through the United Nations in 1995, 1996 and 1998.
Rajkhowa and Choudhury were in Delhi recently in connection with the dialogue process between the government and the over ground leaders of the ULFA. Incidentally, though the "Chairman" and the "Foreign Secretary" are in dialogue with the government, the so-called self-styled "army chief" of the ULFA, Parish Barua, is still opposed to dialogue. Hopefully, it is a matter of time only that Barua falls in line.
Rajkhowa regretfully told the media that ULFA had close ties with the Pakistani fundamentalists. Though he has not specifically said so we can be certain that the Bangladeshi fanatics -- hardcore Jamaat and radical anti-India BNP elements -- were not far behind the Pakistanis in manipulating the ULFA to harm India. Sophisticated weapons were being brought in ships to Bangladesh and then transported inland in trucks. ULFA had started buying weapons from the Islamic jihadis of Pakistan which caused serious consternations within the ULFA ranks. Mistrust also grew with like-minded groups in Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura over the issue. People's support had also started waning.
Choudhury revealed that he was a member of the first batch of ULFA militants to go to Pakistan and receive training in small arms and rifles. He was trained with the Nagas also and in 1988 he was in the second batch of ULFA to go over to Kachin in Myanmar and fought along with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). In Bangladesh, support from various agencies and individuals was deep and extensive. He claimed that he had a Bangladeshi national ID card issued by the Bangladeshi Army. He had passports of several countries, including Bangladesh, Myanmar, Fiji and South Africa. He and his wife adopted Muslim names Rafiqul Islam and Sabina Yasmin respectively. Their daughter went to an International School in Dhaka.
Quite obviously the Bangladeshi system was remarkably hospitable to anti-India elements. Great good luck for India that Sheikh Hasina changed the course of the policy and the ULFA leaders under patronage were handed over to India. The rumour is that Anup Chetia, now in Bangladesh, will also be handed over soon. India should launch a massive publicity of the true character of ULFA as revealed by Rajkhowa and Shashadhar.
When people know the reality, their attitude towards some insurgent outfits will change and the country will be more secure. ULFA's still renegade "Commander-in-Chief" Paresh Barua has started a counter-publicity contradicting the revelations of Rajkhowa and Shashadhar. He has reasons to be worried. With such religious jihadi association and cordiality with hostile foreign armies and intelligence organizations, the ULFA will face repulsion of the people. Paresh Barua knows it. The revelations constitute invaluable material for dissemination among the people. The government may and should make the fullest use of it by reaching out to the people.
If subversion from outside is an ever present serious threat, subversion from within is even more dangerous. The network of terror is most vicious because it is mostly hidden from the eye. Recently one Mohd. Jiarat was picked up from a remote village in Bengal for holding stocks of explosives and supplying them to the saboteurs. Jiarat is still under interrogation and it is possible that his links to the Mumbai blast of 13/7 may be revealed.
Located in Eastern India, he has the right contacts across the country and who knows about his links with the insurgents and jihadi elements in the North East? This is the level, scale and perniciousness of home grown terrorism. On the general issue of national security we have to reckon with the growing threat along the India-China border. Visible threat can be confronted on the spot but invisible threat cuts deep and wears down from within. Rajkhowa and Shashadhar of ULFA have pointed out the dangerous subterranean channels of subversion. Considering the potentially vulnerable component among us, it will be wise to educate the people in the crucial areas about this threat. An alert and vigilant citizenry is the first protective wall against these hidden threats.
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