ULFA(I) ‘s topgun Drishti Rajkhowa (originally Manoj Rabha) has surrendered to Meghalaya police.
The deputy-commander-in-chief of ULFA (I) was said to be cornered in a gunbattle with police and commandoes on Wednesday afternoon .
Meghalaya police said his surrender followed a 30 minute gunbattle after which Rajkhowa gave up, realising his chances of escape were dim because they had cornered him near Bolbogkre village in South Garo Hills with a team from SF-10 commandoes .
But some reliable sources in the area said the gunbattle was a put up show to cover a surrender. One of them said Rajkhowa had been negotiating a surrender because he had possibly injuries from a previous encounter and his wife had cancer.
The negotiations were with Assam police Special Branch and Rajkhowa’s decision to give up was influenced by his failure to get treatment in Bangladesh .
Rajkhowa had been crisscrossing the India-Bangladesh border , giving a slip to security forces on both sides for the last three months.
He was spotted around Jaflong last month when the Pakistan High Commissioner in Dhaka , Imran Siddique was apparently vacationing in a resort in that area.
There was however no confirmation of the two meeting up but there were reports that the Pakistan defence attache in Dhaka Brigadier Ejaz has been setting up meetings with rebel leaders from Northeast in recent months.
Reliable sources say Rajkhowa was desperate for treatment but the BD intelligence and security forces were after him because they had reports that he could set off explosions in the Bibiyana gas pipelines to avenge Hasina govt’s crackdown on ULFA.
Failure to get treatment in BD weakened his resolve to fight on . He is said to have called Paresh Barua this week and said he was surrendering and leaving ULFA on medical grounds.
Barua cleared it but one cannot rule out whether he allowed the surrender to initiate secret parleys with Assam govt and India govt before Assam polls next year through a man believed to be his most trusted at the moment.
Dristhi rose to become the closest confidante of ULFA (I) military wing chief Paresh Barua after desertions from the rebel ranks left the Assamese warlord with little options but to promote him.
From being the commander of ULFA’s 709 battalion operating in western Assam and Meghalaya, Dristhi was made deputy-commander-in-chief .
Being a Rabha himself and with a Garo wife, his kinship network stood him in good stead all these years in the area of his operation.