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Ulfa documents put NGOs in trouble

Guwahati, June 11: Several NGOs based in Assam have come under the scanner with police recovering sheaves of Ulfa documents containing information on links between the militant outfit and various organisations, including one that claims to be a human rights watchdog.

The incriminating documents, packed into three suitcases and as many trunks, were found during a search operation inside a cave in the Kumoi Hills of Morigaon district.

Special branch personnel investigating the matter refused to name any NGO, saying they would do so only after finding irrefutable proof of the Ulfa’s links with the organisations mentioned in the seized documents.

The investigation team is trying to determine the duration and the nature of the links between the NGOs and the outfit.

The Union home ministry last month blacklisted 824 NGOs operating in five states of the Northeast and Sikkim for suspected links with militant outfits. As many as 151 of these organisations are from Assam.

The ministry compiled the list on the basis of information from various sources. Most of these NGOs were found to be extending financial help to militants and functioning as fronts for various outfits by masquerading as service-providers in the economic, healthcare and education sectors.

It is not known if any of the NGOs whose activities the police are investigating figure in the list.

Sources said some of the blacklisted NGOs had taken advantage of their proximity to the state governments and leaked out information on official policies and strategies to militant outfits. Several had functioned as recruitment agencies for these outfits.

Meghalaya tops the list with 323 NGOs of doubtful integrity, followed by Manipur, which has 197. Nagaland has 82, Tripura 69 and Sikkim two. Only Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh do not find mention in the list.

“Apart from information on the links between NGOs and militants, the seized documents contain details of payments made to the Ulfa by businessmen,” a police official disclosed.

He said the investigation team required more time to peruse the entire set of documents, most of them old and worn out, and pinpoint the NGOs having links with the Ulfa.

“Several of the seized documents are copies of demand notes served by the Ulfa on businessmen, while some are propaganda leaflets,” deputy inspector general of police (central-west range) Pallab Bhattacharya said.

The police said the recent arrest of a woman member of the Ulfa, Kalyani Keleng alias Jonali Keleng alias Sunita Sonowal, and two members of the Manab Adhikar Sangram Samity, a human rights organisation, had nothing to do with the recovery of the documents. A police team from Morigaon arrested the trio in Guwahati on Sunday.

However, a source in the special branch claimed the Ulfa’s links with the rights group was “well-known” and that one of the seized documents mention a request to the militant outfit to sponsor a trip to New Delhi by some of its members.

On the condition of the documents, he said, “Some of the documents have been destroyed by rain. The boxes were apparently lying in the cave for some years now. We also found CPI (M-L) propaganda material in the suitcases,” he added.

Morigaon superintendent of police Violet Baruah said district police officials were helping the special branch sleuths examining the documents.

Baruah said the Ulfa member who was arrested in Guwahati on Sunday has been remanded in judicial custody after interrogation. The police official said her revelations had led to arrest of another Ulfa militant from the New Guwahati area. The militant was carrying Rs 1 lakh at the time of his arrest.

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