| Jahnabi Mahanta Rajkonwar |
Jorhat, Feb. 7: Jahnabi Mahanta Rajkonwar, the schoolteacher from Naharkatia in Dibrugarh district who deserted her family to join Ulfa last year, died yesterday.
An email issued by Ulfa (Paresh Barua faction) today said Jahnabi, alias Rashmita Asom, died in an accident yesterday. While declaring Jahnabi a jatiya shahid (martyr) the Ulfa release issued by its self-styled assistant information and publicity secretary Arunadoy Asom, said the outfit was observing a three-day mourning from yesterday at all its camps in the state and abroad.
The email, however, did not mention the site of the accident.
The statement, while praising Jahnabi as an “excellent woman”, said she had left her family and home for the cause of “Asom’s independence and her death is a great loss not only to Ulfa but to all patriotic people of the state”.
The 42-year-old mother of two disappeared from her home in Naharkatia town on February 13, 2012, after she left for Town MV School at her usual time that morning. Her family later found a letter written by her and kept in the folds of a newspaper which said she was joining Ulfa inspired by its “new look”.
The letter surprised her husband since Jahnabi had been a staunch critic of Ulfa and had written numerous letters in newspapers condemning the outfit. Police too were taken by surprise, but investigation later found that she had been in touch with a senior member of the now-dissolved People’s Consultative Group (PCG)— a citizens’ group formed by Ulfa to initiate the peace process as mediator between the Centre and the outfit.
The police reportedly recovered several pro-Ulfa documents and articles written by Jahnabi during their course of investigation and also found that her marital life was not smooth. She had been staying with her 21-year-old elder son at Seujnagar while her husband stays about a kilometre away at Milan Nagar with their younger son aged 19 for almost 10 years.
Manu Rajkonwar, brother-in-law of Jahnabi, told this correspondent from Naharkatia over phone that the family came to know about her death this morning from TV news channels. He said the family is “very much distressed” by the development.
“If what the media is saying is true then we should be handed over the body (of Jahnabi) by Ulfa so that the last rites could be performed and no doubts remain in our minds about her death,” Rajkonwar said. He also said the family wanted to know the exact cause of her death.
The officer-in-charge of Naharkatia police station, Kiron Chandra Nath, today said initially, the police doubted Jahnabi could flee to Myanmar where Ulfa has camps, because of ill health. She was reportedly having severe uric acid problem and ate only boiled food.
Nath said from further investigation it came to light that the former teacher was staying at an NSCN(K) camp along the India-Myanmar border.