New Delhi, May 4: Fifteen years after its formation, the Manipur-based outfit, it was the beginning of the end for the People’s United Liberation Front (PULF) despite efforts by the Bangladeshi militant group Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami to resuscitate it.
Last week, nine of the PULF’s top leaders and activists were arrested in Assam and Karnataka.
“General secretary” Md Ibrahim alias Qusi alias M.I. Khan, “secretary external affairs and chief of army” Md. Nurjaman alias Deny, “organisation-cum-publicity-secretary” Md Abdul Jabbar alias Belal Khan and “deputy commander in-chief-cum-finance secretary” Md Nasir Khan alias Thadoi alias Keshorjit alias Boy, were arrested from a Mysore hotel on April 27. Three more PULF militants were arrested from a rented house in Guwahati on the same day.
The PULF was formed by a group of Meitei Pangal (Muslim) in 1993, the year Manipur witnessed a bloody communal clash between Meiteis and Meitei Pangals, which left more than 100 dead.
Between the mid-1990s and now, the outfit had established a well-oiled network not only with outfits like the NSCN (Isak-Muivah) in Nagaland but also with the Lashkar-e-Toiba.
A PULF rebel arrested in Srinagar last year confessed he was trained in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and said the LeT was trying to get recruits from the Northeast.
Locally, the outfit had tactical tie-ups with Naga rebels, who allowed them to extort money from Muslim businessmen in Dimapur, sources said.
With the recent arrests though, the outfit has been defanged.
“They are practically reduced to a gang of criminals now,” a source here said.
Security agencies, however, are not willing to be complacent, as Islamist groups from Bangladesh are still believed to be attempting reviving the Manipuri outfit.
Intelligence agencies have been working on neutralising the outfit for the past two years. These arrests were co-ordinated between various intelligence agencies and Manipur police. Karnataka police also played an active role in the arrests.
Earlier, PULF leaders were arrested from Calcutta and New Delhi where they used to put up with young Manipuri students.