The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ulfa eyes gem of an investment
- Arrested rebel spills story

Guwahati, Oct. 10: Stocks and mutual funds are for the taxpaying investor. For the extortionist Ulfa, the ideal investment is a piece of jade worth several crore rupees.

Arrested Ulfa commander Prabal Neog has told police that apart from putting its money in real estate and hotels in Bangladesh and beyond, the militant group is after a jade stone that a leader of the Kachin Independent Army (KIA) — a Myanmarese outfit — wants to sell.

A senior officer quoted him as saying that the KIA had fallen on hard times and wanted to sell the stone to procure arms. “Ulfa informed the KIA several months ago that it would like to purchase the stone but was not being able to pay the amount. The Myanmar-based militant outfit asked Ulfa to pay an advance since other prospective buyers were making offers,” he said.

Jades from Myanmar are considered among the best in the world and fetch huge prices.

Neog, who was arrested along with his wife and child in Tezpur last month, told the police that the task of negotiating with the KIA for the stone was assigned to Antu Choudang, a Bangladesh-based militant of Ulfa’s 28 Battalion. Choudang is known to be close to the militant group’s commander-in-chief, Paresh Barua. “Choudang instructed Neog to keep in touch with the KIA leadership regarding the procurement of the priceless stone,” the officer said.

Neog’s arrest ostensibly stalled the process of negotiations.

“So desperate was Ulfa for the stone that Choudang immediately gave Ram Singh, also a member of the 28 Battalion, the responsibility of starting the negotiations that Neog was supposed to begin. Another militant, Samrat Gohain from Golaghat district, has been in the thick of the action,” the officer said.

Neog told the police that he had no idea about the price quoted by the Myanmarese outfit for the piece of jade. The police believe the stone is worth several crore rupees.

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