United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), the outlawed separatist group of the northeastern Indian state of Assam, has created a reign of terror in the Garo hills along greater Mymensingh frontier setting up their dens. Their hideouts are fortified with arsenals like AK-47, Uzi gun, rocket-launcher, Arges grenade and many more locally made weapons.
Saidur Rahman Rimon, Senior Correspondent of banglanews24.com.bd, walked through the jungle bastion of the extremists in the trans-border Garo hills for over a fortnight witnessing lots more to tell us in his firsthand account of the ULFA activities in 5 episodes of his investigative report. Posted below is the Last go in the series.
Fourth Episode: ULFA insurgents’ romance throws indigenous dames into quandary
Third Episode: The horrors of ULFA reign over Garo Hill locals
Second Episode: ULFA safe haven in border zone-booming arms trade
First Episode: Military training at 13 ULFA camps in frontier Garo hills!
DHAKA: North Bhawanipur, a sleepy valley ringed with green hills inside Bangladesh territory, is just five kilometers from Baghmara district headquarters in the Indian reclusive state of Meghalaya. Here the banglanews24.com.bd correspondent had an audience with an ULFA commander on their mission, vision and a degree of ire against branding them as brigands.
“Why the Bangladeshi journalists should brand us as a band of marauders- dacoits? Why they try to identify us as miscreants? Mridul Marak, the chief commander of Ramchenga ULFA camp, shot the questions as Saidur Rahman Rimon talked to him on July 13.
Putting on combat gear, Mridul, ranked ‘Major’ by his separatist organization, initially did not agree to an interview. Later he spoke—covering ULFA objectives and works and the arrest of top leaders in Bangladesh. Mridul’s second- in- command, Kubi Drong, was also present.
During the interview, Mridul parried many questions. When pointed out that the Indian government branded ULFA as a terrorist outfit, he flew into a rage.
“Oppressive Indian government would definitely try to brand the freedom fighters as armed miscreants. But why the journalists should play the same tune?” he asked.
He referred to the liberation war of Bangladesh. “People of Bangladesh took shelter in Assam. The armed Bangalees were known as freedom fighters while, now, to the contrary, we the armed freedom aspirants are being branded as marauders!”
Mridul Marak was born in a village near Gauhati town. His father Bhobotosh Barua served the Agriculture Ministry of India. In 2005 Mridul obtained Master’s degree from Sreemata Anandamoyee College in Jorehat town. Just one and half months before, he was arrested by the security forces of India and tortured. He had appeared at the examination on parole. He managed to escape and joined ULFA.
Another commander, Major Jotin alias Martin Aakash, stationed at Belua of Kulaura in Moulvibazar, told banglanews24.com.bd that ULFA did not set up any permanent camp inside Bangladesh territory.
“ULFA members cross the border and take refuge in Bangladesh temporarily. They go back to their own land afterwards when the onslaught by security forces is over,” he said.
The expelled members are pushed inside Bangladesh border areas to commit crimes of varied nature, including dacoity, looting and gunrunning. Those runways torture the innocent villagers. The villagers are provoked against fake ULFA so that the genuine ULFA members do not get shelter in the frontier backwoods.
Martin had another telltale story--he said that there are separate training camps for the expelled ULFA members adjacent to Komolpur, Dholi and Kalighat BSF outposts. He says Indian intelligence personnel have a role. “The specially trained members are sent to destroy the ULFA camps inside Bangladesh territory,” Martin alleged.
After repeated requests, a snap of Martin was taken by camera in standing position with a .32 revolver in his hand and seven AK-47 rifles kept on a bench near his hideout.
An ULFA female commander, Arati Mrong, at bordering Kochpara under Jhenaigati police station of Sherpur district said she does not stay in Bangladesh permanently, but often visits.
Former president of Bangladesh Garo Chattra Sangathan (BAGACAS), the main platform of Bangladesh Garo students, Anjan Mrong said the setting up of ULFA camps and their cross-border movements fuelled by some influential quarters have been pricking as a ‘bone in the throat’ of the Garos.
But, to the contrary, different government agencies, including the law enforcers, have tried to brand the entire Garo community as separatists.
Anjan Mrong, now a teacher of Durgapur Degree college of Netrakona, told banglanews24.com.bd that the Garo community of Bangladesh has least connections with any secessionist movement.
BDST 1550 HRS, JULY 31, 2010