| Ganesh Rabha (face covered) outside the Jalpaiguri SP’s office on Wednesday. Picture by Biplab Basak
Guwahati/Jalpaiguri, Jan. 17: A team from Bengal police swooped down on a rented house near Down Town Hospital in Guwahati late last night and arrested a leader of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB).
The NDFB rebel was picked up for his suspected involvement in two explosions in Bengal, including the one at Belakoba near Siliguri on November 20.
Confirming the arrest of Ganesh Rabha alias Jagadish, “commander” of the 10th battalion of the NDFB, Assam police said the entire operation was conducted by their Bengal counterparts on the basis of information culled from their own sources.
A group of policemen had kept a watch on Rabha’s house in Sapta village on the outskirts of Guwahati before zeroing in on him. His wife was present when the arrest took place.
The police could not give more details, but said the “catch” was important and a big step forward in the investigation.
On November 20, a bomb blast had ripped through a general coach of a passenger train, killing eight persons in what is the first explosion on a train in Bengal. The bomb, believed to be a timer device, went off in the general bogie (GS 8321) of the 618 Dn Haldibari-New Jalpaiguri Passenger at Belakoba station, 28 km from Siliguri, at 6.19pm, minutes before the train was to leave for New Jalpaiguri.
The NDFB, which is in ceasefire with the Assam and central governments, put up a show of righteous indignation in reaction to Rabha’s arrest. The militant group said it would enforce a 12-hour national highway blockade in Assam from 4 am tomorrow.
The outfit’s spokesman, S. Sanjarang, said Bengal police arrested Rabha on “flimsy grounds” and in violation of the ground rules of the tripartite ceasefire. He said the NDFB would start another highway blockade on January 23 if the police did not free his arrested comrade.
North Bengal inspector-general of police K.L. Meena said at a news conference in Jalpaiguri that Rabha’s involvement in the Barobhisa blast had almost been confirmed. He declined to say whether the militant leader played a role in the Belakoba incident.
On October 15, twin blasts had shaken Barobhisa, 32 km from Alipurduar. One person was injured.
“The information available with us indicates that he (Rabha) had a hand in the Barobhisa blast, but we cannot comment on his suspected involvement in the Belakoba incident as the case is with the CID now. However, he is definitely a prize catch,” Meena said.
A CID team from Calcutta will interrogate him.
Another NDFB member, Addison Sangma, was arrested from Dhubri in November for supplying RDX to the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) of north Bengal and helping it prepare the “blueprint” for the train blast.
Assam police suspect that some NDFB militants could still be helping Ulfa and the KLO. The police also do not rule out the possibility of Ulfa using them for subversive activities in Guwahati and elsewhere in the state.