Guwahati, May 19: Rattled by the string of attacks carried out by Ulfa militants in the city and the growing public ire against the government, Assam police today kicked off a poster campaign seeking information about the culprits.
Dispur also announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh in cash for anyone who can provide authentic information about the two dreaded Ulfa activists.
The posters were plastered all over the Assam capital a day after the blast in Fancy Bazar, which left 13 injured. The photos were those of Hira Sarania and Akash Thapa, the suspected masterminds of the attacks.
The posters of the deadly duo were put up at public places in different areas of the city, such as Lakhtokia and Ambari.
Senior superintendent of police (city) S.N. Singh said Sarania and Thapa had masterminded and organised the recent bomb explosions in Guwahati.
“Not just the city, the posters of the duo will also be put up at different places in the Lower Assam districts of Nalbari, Baksa and Kamrup,” Singh said.
Hira Sarania, the commander of Ulfa’s 709 Battalion, and his aide Akash Thapa, are reported to be operating in these areas.
“We don’t have any specific information about the presence of the duo in the city, but one can never be sure as they keep moving from one place to another,” the SSP added.
Sarania is believed to be a key lieutenant of Ulfa commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah. The 42-year-old militant hails from Dighalipaar village under Tamulpur police station in Baksa district. Sarania, who has two aliases — Naba Deka and Diamond — joined the outfit in 1990.
At present, Sarania is an important operational head of the rebel outfit in Lower Assam, and his ambit of activities includes Guwahati.
Akash Thapa alias Sara-nga Patowary is believed to be close to Sarania. Thapa, who hails from Boko area of Kamrup district, had undergone training in handling arms and explosives in Bhutan.
Police records reveal that Thapa began acting as a Ulfa linkman when he was studying for his graduation at Pragjyotish College in Guwahati in 1997. He later became a full-fledged member of the outfit and underwent training in Bhutan.
Thapa was arrested from Guwahati in April 2005 in connection with the blast at Judges Field during the Republic Day celebrations that year. He went underground after he was released on bail. Since then, he has been absconding.
The duo has long been a headache for the police. Sarania is believed to have masterminded the abduction of Food Corporation of India (FCI) executive director (North East) P.C. Ram.
Police sources said Sarania was instrumental in rebuilding the network of the militant outfit in Lower Assam, mainly in areas bordering Bhutan, after Ulfa suffered serious reverses as a result of Operation All Clear in 2003. Sarania and Thapa are also considered to be responsible for the outfit’s extortion drive in Guwahati.
The posters that have been put up are written in Assamese. In them, the two Ulfa activists have been described as “polatok asami” (absconding accused). The police have pledged that all informers would enjoy complete anonymity.
Apart from contacting two telephone numbers (0361-2381511 and 0361-2380624), any person having information regarding the whereabouts of the two dreaded rebels can also contact the nearest police station or the deputy commissioner or the superintendent of police of the district or the deputy inspector-general of that range.
After operations against the outfit were stepped up, one of its linkmen, identified as Hamedul Ali, was arrested in a joint operation by the 21 Jat Regiment of the army and police from Pawarchar village under Golokganj police station of Dhubri district today.
Documents relating to the banned outfit were recovered from his possession. Police and army intelligence officials are interrogating him at Golokganj police station.
The SFI today took out a rally in Guwahati condemning the killings of innocent people and seeking revival of the peace process.
In over two decades of insurgency in Assam, the last time such a poster campaign was launched by the police was in 2001.
Photographs of Ulfa’s self-styled commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah, chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa and finance secretary Chitrabon Hazarika were put up at different parts of the state.