Guwahati, Oct. 31: An “overground” Ulfa activist having business links with a Congress leader from Upper Assam and two of his associates were today arrested with a cache of arms and ammunition meant for the banned militant group’s dreaded combat wing, the 28th battalion.
Prabal Chetia, who joined Ulfa in 1997 and underwent arms training in Kachin province of Myanmar before returning home because of “family commitments”, was arrested at Jorabat.
Chetia had kept his links with Ulfa well concealed. He was known in Makum as a small tea grower and also for his proximity to the Congress leader.
Senior superintendent of police (city) Nitul Gogoi said his arrest and the arms haul were just the tip of the iceberg. “We have information that Ulfa has been bringing in arms and ammunition through Meghalaya. Acting on these leads, we intercepted a Bolero (AS-23E/1560) at Jorabat and seized the consignment,” he said.
As many as nine M-20 pistols with 18 magazines and 80 rounds of ammunition, 18 grenades of Austrian make, 480 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition (used in self-loading and Kalashnikov rifles), 18 packets of PE3A explosives weighing about 8 kg and some pistol-cleaning rods were seized from Chetia.
Gogoi described the PE3A as “a very powerful explosive” used in programmable timer devices. “About 10 bombs can be manufactured with a kg of this explosive. Chetia was carrying the consignment from Shillong to Tinsukia in accordance with directions from top Ulfa militant Prabal Neog.”
Neog, alias Benu Bora, is the commander of the Ulfa’s 28th battalion.
The other two arrested persons are Basanta Deka, a linkman of the outfit, and Birendra Mahato, the driver of the vehicle in which the arms and ammunition were being brought to Assam. Deka was arrested from his residence in Japorigog on charges of harbouring Chetia before he left for Shillong to receive the consignment.
City police suspect the consignment was brought in from Bangladesh through Cherrapunji.
Later in the day, they seized a truck (AS-25A/0964) from a warehouse in Beltola. Deka had apparently hired the truck for the onward journey to Tinsukia.
Apart from building on leads to Ulfa’s arms-supply chain, city police have launched a manhunt to arrest Babu Khan, a “captain” of the banned People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of Manipur.
A police official said PLA member Gyaneswar Singh, who was arrested yesterday from Ulubari, told interrogators that Khan was in the city.