Jorhat, July 19: Police today apprehended a youth from Sivasagar district who was allegedly contracted by Ulfa to attack security forces, soon after he had lobbed a grenade at an Assam Rifles convoy that included two schoolbuses, a Gypsy and a truck.
The grenade, however, missed all the vehicles and exploded on hitting the road.
Dipak Gowala, alias Bijoy Monkey, alias Bunda of Maduri tea estate under Simaluguri police station was caught from a nearby wood where he was hiding after the incident at Choladhora village on Bihubar Road around 7.20 am.
The truck and the Gypsy were escorting the two schoolbuses ferrying wards of Assam Rifles personnel based at Naginimora in Mon district of Nagaland to Nazira Kendriya Vidyalaya in Sivasagar district. There were around 60 children in the two buses which ply on the route regularly.
This is the first such attempt by Ulfa to carry out a strike on security forces in recent times. The outfit was said to have become a spent force soon after the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by the Alpha and Charlie companies of the lethal 28 battalion, which was operating in Upper Assam districts.
The district superintendent of police, Sivasagar, A.K. Singh, told this correspondent that Ulfa had paid Rs 50,000 to Dipak in advance to carry out attacks on security personnel and had promised to pay another Rs 2.5 lakh after the job was completed.
“We immediately launched an operation in the area after the grenade attack on the Assam Rifles convoy and managed to apprehend Dipak who was hiding in a wood in the area,” Singh said.
The SP said that Dipak had confessed to taking money from Ulfa to carry out the act. “He said that he had taken the money to liquidate a mortgage on a plot of land belonging to his family,” Singh said. It was yet to be ascertained whether Dipak had the schoolbuses as target or the other vehicles which were carrying Assam Rifles personnel.
Another police official, however, said the role of Naga militants could not be entirely ruled out since according to preliminary findings a Naga person had paid Dipak the money “unless, of course, this person was only acting as a conduit for the Ulfa”
The SP said that Dipak had confessed to taking money from Ulfa to carry out the act.
“We are also investigating if more such youths in the district have been hired by Ulfa,” the official said. The Telegraph had earlier reported that the Paresh Barua faction of Ulfa is offering cash incentives to lure teenagers to the outfit following an erosion of its cadre pool over the last few years. The police had also recently cautioned the leaders of the pro-talks group of Ulfa, especially those based in Sivasagar district, of a possible attempt on their lives by the anti-talks faction, which is now trying to regroup in Mon district of Nagaland, bordering Sivasagar.