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Govt’s tame-Ulfa goal hits PLA wall

Imphal, Sept. 16: The Tarun Gogoi government’s efforts to tame the anti-talks faction of Ulfa may face hurdles as Manipur’s Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) is not only helping the group in procuring arms but also imparting explosives training to its cadres.

“A special warfare group of the PLA is giving guerrilla warfare training to cadres of the anti-talks faction of Ulfa. They are also providing weapons training to the group, including training on how to assemble powerful explosive devices,” an intelligence source here told The Telegraph.

The source said PLA cadres, who were trained in China, were experts in developing IEDs. The recent bomb attacks in Assam by Ulfa was the result of this training.

PLA is the military wing of Revolutionary Peoples Front, which is fighting for restoration of Manipur’s lost freedom. Manipur was a princely sovereign state, which was merged with India on October 15, 1949, following an agreement. The special warfare group of the PLA, also known as the “demolition group”, is responsible for making bombs and conducting research on how to use latest technology to pinpoint targets. The intelligence source said the help provided by the PLA to the Paresh Barua group would come as the main hurdle in Assam government’s efforts to bring the outfit to the negotiation table, as it had done in case of the Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa-led group.

After Indian intelligence agencies took Rajkhowa and his aides into custody in Bangladesh, the group had agreed to sit down for peace talks with New Delhi.

But Paresh Barua, who was left with only a few loyal cadres, is refusing to talk.

The latest intelligence input suggests that the strength of the Paresh Barua group is growing. “Recently, this group (anti-talks faction) has recruited more than 1,000 fresh cadres.

In addition to this, the training given by PLA is a cause for worry not only for Assam government but also for New Delhi,” the source said. According to the source, PLA has trained a batch of Ulfa cadres on explosive devices and guerrilla warfare tactics for a month and another batch is ready to start.

The sources said the PLA cadres conducted the training at Ulfa camps in Myanmar.

The development does not come as a surprise to security agencies as ties between Paresh Barua and PLA is well known. Barua first contacted PLA cadres when he came to Imphal as a footballer to take part in the CC Meet football championship in the mid-seventies. After going back to his state, Barua had founded Ulfa along with some others.

The development, however, has become a cause for worry for New Delhi. PLA’s support to Ulfa was preceded by the outfit’s support to Maoists operating in the eastern region of the country. “The PLA cadres imparted weapons and communication training to Maoists and also took part in ambushes carried out by the latter,” the source said. “PLA’s support to Ulfa has become a matter of serious concern.”