Guwahati, April 24: Another small battle in the war on militancy in Assam was won today when a special operations team of Guwahati police busted a hilltop hideout and gunned down three militants.
The police said one of the slain militants was possibly involved in some of the recent blasts in the state capital, Ulfa’s main target in the past couple of years.
The encounter took place at Adimgiri Hill in Maligaon in the wee hours. The special operations team was conducting a search operation in the area after receiving information about “suspicion-arousing” activities in the area.
“The three Ulfa rebels were hiding in a thatched house on the hillock. They fired at the police team, which retaliated instantly and killed all three,” a police officer said.
The slain rebels were Uddhab Kalita alias Sanjiv Deka, Ganesh Kalita alias Gautam Sharma and Parameswar Deka alias Mrigen Dutta. Uddhab hailed from Naokata village at Goreswar in Baksa district. All three were part of Ulfa’s 709 Battalion, which operates in the city and parts of Lower Assam.
An M-20 pistol, a grenade, half-a-kg of explosives, two bombs and five rounds of ammunition were found at the encounter site.
The police said the militants acquired a plot of land on the hillock about a month ago and built the thatched house. “Residents of the area reported their suspicion-arousing activities to us. They were under watch for a period of time before the operation was launched,” the police officer said.
Apart from weapons, explosives and ammunition, the special operations team found containers that are generally used to stack bombs. “We suspect the militants were preparing for more blasts in the city,” the officer said.
Intensive operations by the army in Upper Assam are believed to be forcing Ulfa militants from those areas to shift to Lower Assam.
“We have some information that we are assessing...We will act once we have substantiated it,” the officer said.
The army gunned down eight Ulfa members, two of them women, in Arunachal Pradesh on April 10. The operation was said to be the most successful “single strike” in a decade of counter-insurgency operations against the banned militant group.
The encounter took place at Lathao in Lohit district, which has become the favourite sanctuary of Ulfa militants on the run.
Earlier this week, Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa dismissed the army’s claim that the outfit was a spent force. He accused the armed forces of collaborating with the bureaucracy to sabotage efforts to resume the peace process.