In a major setback to insurgency in the north-east, a deputy commander-in-chief of ULFA (I) surrendered along with his four bodyguards, a culmination of nine years of persistent efforts in this regard by a young officer of the Military Intelligence.
Official sources said that Drishti Rajkhowa, also known as ‘Major Rabha’ or ‘Drishti Asom’ from the banned insurgent organisation, surrendered on late Wednesday night at the Red Horns Division of the Indian Army.
Rajkhowa, an RPG expert responsible for several attacks in the northeast, is a close confidant of ULFA (Independent) commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah who has been hiding in China. Rajkhowa was the commander of 109 Battalion of ULFA (I) until 2011 when Baruah promoted him as his deputy.
This surrender has caused a severe blow to Baruah, ULFA (I), its cadres and the organisation’s nefarious design in the region, the sources added.
On the directions of his chief, Rajkhowa became the mastermind behind gun-running in north-eastern states and even in Bangladesh, sources said. He was hiding in Mymensingh city of Bangladesh, around 120 km north of Dhaka.
One the primary suppliers of firearms to various insurgent groups, he used to frequently shuttle between Garo Hills in Meghalaya and Bangladesh for this purpose, sources said. He was regarded as an honorary leader by the Garo insurgents.
Rajkhowa has survived many encounters, with the last one as recent as October 20 this year. Sources said that his surrender before the Army is a great success for the central government, given its persistent efforts to eradicate insurgency in the region.
The sources pointed out that the surrender is a result of the hard work, dedication and nine years of sincere efforts put in by the MI officer and swift planning by the Military Intelligence.
The young MI Captain had got in touch with the dreaded insurgent in 2011 and maintained his communication channel with him despite multiple transfers. All these years, the officer ignored his personal safety and encouraged the insurgent to surrender and come into the mainstream and facilitate it for others too, the sources said.
With his numerous conversations the officer was able to soften the rigid view of the insurgent and managed to convince him that insurgency is the biggest hurdle in the path of prosperity of the people in the region, the sources said. Finally, Rajkhowa was convinced and agreed to surrender on Wednesday.
The MI staff in Delhi crafted a surrender plan under the supervision of Director General of MI (DGMI) after much deliberations to meet the security and safety requirements peculiar to the case. The plan was executed on ground with the support of Meghalaya-based Red Horns Division of the Army.
On November 11, around midnight, the operation was launched. Rajkhowa surrendered along with his four bodyguards, and gave up one AK-81 assault rifle and two pistols. Subsequently, they were taken to an undisclosed safer location, the sources said.