Chairman and founder of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) Arabinda Rajkhowa has been arrested by Bangladesh police somewhere near Dhaka, said reports.
Reports said that the arrest was made on late Monday night, but governments in Bangladesh or in India are still confirm it officially.
Now, the ULFA is left with only one major leader, that is, self-styled commander-in-chief Paresh Barua. Anup Chetia, another major leader of the militant outfit, is already in prison in Bangladesh and is awaiting extradition to India in next few months.
It may be mentioned that Rajkhowa, whose real name is Rajib Rajkonwar, is one of the four top leaders who floated the separatist outfit on April 7, 1979.
Interestingly, November 5 two other senior leaders, “foreign secretary” Sasha Choudhury and “finance secretary” Chitraban Hazarika were arrested in Bangladesh and handed over to India. Union home secretary GK Pillai however said that Choudhury and Hazarika had surrendered to the authorities.
The arrest of Rajkhowa (53), who is likely to be handed over to India in the next couple of days, also looks like paving way for initiating peace talks between the government and the ULFA.
While Rajkhowa has been talking about possible peace negotiations with the government, several senior leaders like Choudhury, Hazarika and ideologue Bhimkanta Buragohain (all currently in jail) have been saying that it was Rajkhowa who would take the “final decision” on holding talks with the government.
Rajkhowa’s arrest also indicates a vertical division between the pro-talk section of ULFA leaders and the anti-talk section headed by Paresh Barua. The latter has been vehemently opposing the idea of holding any discussion with the government except on the issue of sovereignty.