Paresh Baruah ULFA terror group leader addressing his cadres

Sources said that since the beginning of 2019, over 20 ULFA cadres have surrendered, and that their numbers are dwindling from a maximum cadre strength of about 200.

Guwahati: Another United Liberation Front of Assam-Independent (ULFA-I) cadre has surrendered before the security forces in Upper Assam.

A statement released by Indian Army in Sivasagar said they have apprehended self-styled corporal Podum Asom alias Rupam Das, an active ULFA (I) cadre, who had also served as a personal security guard of senior ULFA leaders in Myanmar’s Ta ga (headquarters of most northeast militant groups).

Based on inputs from locals, a team of Para Special Forces launched an operation and arrested the ULFA cadre from Disangmukh area of Sivasagar district on Monday.

The proscribed outfit has suffered a series of apprehensions and surrenders in recent times, with sources saying that their numbers are dwindling from a maximum cadre strength of about 200. The outfit, however, claims otherwise. Assam police sources said that since the beginning of 2019, over 20 ULFA (I) cadres have surrendered, so far, and many more are likely to give up.

Signs of desertions had emerged following the crackdown on Northeast rebel groups by the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Army) in Ta Ga about three months ago. The Tatmadaw captured several outposts, training schools, and had recovered huge cache of arms and ammunition while laying siege to the rebel camps.

Sources said that the ULFA(I) cadres are scattered now, and have moved closer to the Indian border.

Former Assam DGP Harekrishna Deka believes that Northeast rebel groups, including ULFA, will continue to be in Myanmar by shifting to new areas that may give them better human and logistic support. However, security analysts believe that it’s just a matter of time that northeast militant groups will survive in Myanmar, or bounce back at the same level as they did before.

“It looks like everything is not well in the ULFA camp and the crackdown by Myanmar Army must have its psychological effect too, particularly among the new recruits. There have been many attacks by the Myanmar army in NSCN and ULFA camps in the past. But despite heavy losses, these outfits have survived. The terrain of the region and anti-Myanmarese tribal environment helped them survive. And, from a distance, Paresh Baruah still seems to be in control of the outfit,” said Deka.

In operational achievements for the Indian Army and Assam police, seven ULFA rebels had surrendered before a team of 21 Para Special Forces and Tinsukia police on March 18 after crossing over from Myanmar. Two others surrendered on March 31 in Tinsukia district, followed by three more who surrendered to a joint team of Assam Rifles and Army.

According to Army sources, two ULFA-I cadres were reportedly injured in a gun battle with security forces deep inside the Tirap Reserve Forest, south of Nagadubi village along Assam-Arunachal border on Wednesday. 

The incident took place early morning when a team of Para Special Forces launched a surveillance operation on specific intelligence-based inputs along the border area in Arunachal’s Changlang district.

Sources said the team was fired upon as they moved from Arunachal to Assam border, about 2km ahead of Wara village where the militants were holed up, adding that it was possibly a group of about 3-4 ULFA(I) and NSCN-K cadres.

“Security forces retaliated when they were fired upon. The gunfight lasted for about 10-15 minutes,” said Assam police sources in Tinsukia.

Meanwhile, a search operation has been launched along the border.